22 June 2001

Be safe &test left-over seeds, growers urged

By Andrew Blake

CEREAL growers with seed left over from last season are being strongly urged to have it tested at least for germination before sowing this autumn.

Last years bad weather and the greater set-aside area mean many more growers will be looking to sow early. At the lower rates required, it is vital that every seed produces a plant, warns Dalgetys Barry Barker.

"A germination test is an absolute must, especially if you are drilling early at low seed rates."

Much more unused certified winter wheat and barley seed remains on farms than usual, and the temptation to sow it untested should be resisted, he advises.

In some parts of the country as much as 20% of last years requirements may still be in the bag, and poorly stored seed can deteriorate.

With the seed production area down about 30% on 2000, supplies will be much more in balance and growers will be keen to make a start with over-yeared seed, believes David Hamilton of Countrywide Farmers. The firm is offering a free germination test on any carry-over farm stocks of certified seed, saving about £30/sample.

"We strongly advise a test as soon as possible before the work load in seed testing laboratories increases at harvest. This will allow sowing rates to be adjusted to compensate for any drop in germination."

Banks Cargills Charlie Whitworth also advises a vigour test. "Seed treatments may affect vigour, and we are prepared to look after growers who bought seed from us by doing germination and vigour tests free of charge."

Provided seed is stored dry and no more than one year old, treatments should have no adverse affect. But under less than ideal conditions some phytotoxicity is inevitable, says Mr Barker. Growers with certified seed bought from the company should speak to their regional office. &#42

SEEDTESTING

&#8226 More on-farm certified stocks.

&#8226 Effect of long storage uncertain.

&#8226 Pressure to drill early at low rates.

&#8226 Germination assessment essential.

This week in FF…

In Morayshire crops and countryside are blooming, says Ron Duncan, but in Lincs Mark Ireland reckons they are average at best. Oxon grower Paul Warburton has some definite views on DEFRA and combine costs, while Essexs Andrew Kerr considers cultivation and early drilling. Turn to pages 64 & 65