19 June 1998

Anti-FSS campaign attack

THE UKASTA/BSPB campaign to urge cereal growers to think twice before increasing their reliance on farm-saved seed has been rejected by a leading mobile seed processing company.

"The campaign is an understandable reaction to the possibility of the market for certified seed declining as farmers look for ways to cut costs," says Nick Downey, of CYO Seeds in Leics.

"But 70% of cereal growers use a mobile seed processor for a proportion of their crop, including some highly successful farmers who would not use us if we were not providing a good service."

CYO, which operates across the southern half of the country from bases in Leics, Wilts and Oxon, says there is a big rise in orders for this harvest. "Our order books are fuller at this time of the season than ever before. We expect to do 10% more business than last year," says Bill Eaton, of CYO at Didcot.

"Around 70% of orders so far are from new customers, while our existing ones want us to handle more. Despite the collapse of grain prices, the cost of certified seed has remained high and cereal growers now realise we are not a second division operation."

A similar surge in demand has been experienced by Suffolk-based TGS Seeds, which operates nine mobile seed cleaners between the Humber and south coast.

"All indications suggest this will be a bumper year," says Philip Taylor, of TSG. "There is a lot of interest from farmers who have never used a mobile seed cleaner before and want to reduce seed costs without compromising quality." &#42

Indications suggest a bumper year for farm-saved seed, says Philip Taylor of TGS. But breeders and merchants warn that the job must be done properly to ensure a top quality product is achieved. Mistakes can cost growers more than lost yield and quality, they claim.