Turnip-rape – a flexible and hardy oil crop for Sweden

Last changed: 07 August 2023

The project in brief

Turnip-rape is an environmentally sustainable oil crop used in crop rotation systems, primarily in northern Sweden, but it is also a good alternative for cultivation in parts of Svealand (centre of Sweden). However, due to heavily reduced plant breeding efforts in the last 20 years, it has fallen behind other crops in terms of yield. In order for the cultivation to be sustainable, a good crop rotation is required to combat pests and diseases, while also promoting biodiversity. Cultivating only one or two crops is not enough to sustainably increase production. Cultivation of turnip-rape also gives farms in northern Sweden the possibility to incorporate an oil crop into their cultivation system. Plant breeding contributes to the development of crops with good yield potential, and by combining several of these crops, the harvests become larger and the crops healthier.  An increased plant breeding and product development in northern Sweden will be necessary for a reinforced food production and Swedish competitiveness. For this reason, we need to develop new varieties of turnip-rape which take into consideration the climate as well as diseases and pests, in order to have the best possible harvests from a relatively limited area.

The project aims to develop turnip-rape as an oil crop for the growing conditions of northern Sweden. The project will continue for around 3 years and the aim is to offer a new breeding material and to develop certain molecular tools for continued breeding of turnip-rape in Sweden. The project is helped by the close kinship between rapeseed and turnip-rape, which means that there are already tools and knowledge about rapeseed that can be used and adapted for turnip-rape, which speeds up the breeding process for the latter.

Field trials will be conducted in both 2020 and 2021, in order to study how different varieties behave in terms of length, width, how well they grow, when they start to bloom, how early they ripen and how large of a yield they produce. Resilience to various diseases and content of various substances will also be evaluated. Individual varieties that are better than others will be identified. A number of plants with interesting properties are selected from the field trial, and seeds are taken from them to be used in breeding. These studies contribute important knowledge for the breeder, who ensures continued Swedish breeding of turnip-rape, and valuable knowledge of turnip-rape in a Scandinavian context.

Collaboration takes place between SLU, Jerrestad Agro AB, Svalöf Consulting and Hushållningssällskapet, where different actors provide available breeding material for turnip-rape, contribute competence within practical turnip-rape breeding, cultivation expertise relating to northern Sweden, and international networks of breeders and molecular laboratory work. Collaboration partners will also participate in the planning and implementation of field trials in 2021.


Project period: 2020-2023

Project coordinator: Anders Carlsson, SLU i Alnarp

Participating organisations: SLU, Jerrestad Agro AB, Svalöf Consulting and Hushållningssällskapet.


Related pages:


Dr. Anders Carlsson, Head of Department
Department of Plant Breeding, SLU
anders.carlsson@slu.se, +46 (0)40-415561