19 November 1999

Disease threat to some linseed seed supplies

SEED of some spring linseed varieties could run short after the worst alternaria infection for a decade, warns one breeder.

But a leading supplier believes there should be enough seed overall to meet growers demands.

Nickerson says DANI tests show widespread heavy alternaria, cutting germinations to as little as 30-40%. With a minimum requirement of 85% some stocks are being pulled, says the firms Frank Curtis. Oscar could suffer most. Seed treatment may enable some recovery of stocks, but the proportion will not be known until later, he notes.

"We have had mixed results with our seed crops," says Dalgetys Julie Goult. "Generally southern ones have more disease than those in the north. We have had germinations as low as 40%."

A complication is that some varieties, for example Mikael, are sensitive to Prelude (prochloraz), the most effective seed dressing against alternaria, she says.

"The losses are not a huge percentage of the crop and there should certainly be enough Barbara and Zoltan," says colleague Barry Barker. Supplies of newer varieties with smaller seed areas, such as Symphonia, could be tighter.

Jeremy Taylor of Semundo believes there should be plenty of seed, although some niche varieties could run short.

Some farm-saved seed is showing high levels of disease, warns Richard Elsdon of United Oilseeds.

Alison Williamson for Prelude supplier Agrichem (International) urges home-savers to treat and test for germination to avoid a potentially catastrophic crop failure next spring. &#42

SPRING LINSEED

&#8226 High disease levels in seed.

&#8226 Low germinations widespread.

&#8226 Prelude treatment advised.

&#8226 Not all varieties suitable.