Large increase in demand for mobile seed cleaners
Demand for mobile
seed cleaning around the
regions is heavier than
normal this season.
Edward Long reports
IN Yorks, BCS Agriculture, which started with a single machine two years ago and added two more this season, reports a big increase in demand.
"Our telephone is red-hot and order book full, but we are not turning work away," says Thirsk-based Eric Hutchinson. "We are working on a first come-first served basis after allowing for drilling priorities."
After being caught out by bad weather last autumn cereal growers in north Lincs, Notts and Yorks were keen to make a prompt start this season. "A lot of seed companies have struggled to supply seed on time, and the cost-saving motive has also had an impact on demand."
Consort is the most popular wheat handled and main barleys are Regina and Vertige.
Grain quality, particularly wheat, is much better than last years with specific weights in the mid-high 70s. Screenings are 10-12% compared with 30% last year, he reports.
"Disease levels are low and sprouting has been nowhere near as bad as further south. Germinations are at least 92%, with most much higher. The most popular fungicide for barley is Raxil S, with Beret Gold for wheat."
* Midlands and Wales
STAFFORD-based ReSo Seeds seven mobile cleaners are working flat out.
"Our order book is full and the telephone never stops ringing," says Frank Littlehales. "Although demand is strong for wheat and barley, we did 20% less rape than last year due to a decline in the area and growers taking seed straight from the heap. We expect to handle 2000t of barley and 5500t of wheat."
Winter barley combined before August rain has bold grain and high germination. Wheat screenings at 12-14% are only slightly up on normal. Disease levels are low and Mr Littlehales says there is nothing that cannot be controlled with seed treatment. The trend to earlier drilling means Baytan (fuberidazole + triadimenol) is popular, especially for second wheat.
Most common barleys are Gleam and Fanfare. Wheats include Consort, Riband, Hereward and newer Madrigal and Malacca.
ReSo says the typical cost of cleaning farm-saved cereal seed is £25-35/t plus chemical, bags and, where applicable, royalty payment.
ROSS ON WYE-BASED Tech-nicrop reports huge demand for its mobile seed cleaner.
"Business has rocketed," says Stuart Goodinson. "We are booked to more than ever before and by mid-September had completed more than in the whole of last autumn." The need to cut costs and worries about bought-in seed supplies are the key reasons, and he has handled 50% more oilseed rape than usual.
Cereal quality in Hereford & Worcs, Glos, and the Vale of Glamorgan is below 1998 levels but remarkably good, he reports. Rialto and Reaper have needed aggressive grading but germinations are in the mid to upper 90s.
The company, which plans to expand its seed cleaning business, handles a lot of Intro, Regina and Heligan winter barley, the most popular wheats being Consort, Hereward, Riband and Malacca.
The need for full traceability has significantly boosted demand, says Mr Goodinson. "Putting farm-saved seed through a mobile cleaner provides a slightly more hands-on approach to the whole job."
DIDCOT-BASED CYO Seeds nine mobiles, operating in the south Midlands and south-east, are covered by the NAAC Verified Seed Scheme which follows ACCS guidelines. All have gravity separators which are proving their worth in stripping out sprouted grains and ergot.
"There is lots of ergot around this year," says CYOs Bill Eaton. "But it can be removed by gravity separation. To achieve 90%+ germination we are having to grade hard and screenings are high at an average of 25-30%."
Normally the company does about 400 unofficial germination tests. This year it has carried out about 800.
There is plenty of fusarium, but with seed dressing it is not a problem, says Mr Eaton. CYOs typical cost for cleaning and dressing a 10t lot of wheat is £77/t plus bags and royalty. This is a saving of about £100/t over bought-in C2 seed of a common variety.
Mr Eaton has cleaned much less rape seed than previously, partly because of failures due to high glucosinolate levels. "It is not because of any increase in use of hybrids. Many of our customers who save their own seed have been disappointed with hybrids and are sticking to open-pollinated types. There is wall-to-wall Apex in this area."
IN SUFFOLK, Bury St Edmunds-based TGS Seeds reports a general swing to farm-saved seed and increased demand for mobile cleaning.
"We have done about the same amount of oilseed rape as last year but look like doing more wheat and barley," says Alec Scales. "Poor harvest weather may have restricted total demand. Grain quality is variable, depending on when it was combined, and screenings are heavy. Sprouting is not as bad as had been feared and sprouted grains are easily removed. Germinations are in the high 90s."
Most popular wheats through his nine mobiles are Consort, Riband and Savannah. Most favoured barleys are Intro, Regina and Fanfare. *
• 40% of cerels farm-saved.
• Most fungicide-dressed.
• Ergot widespread this year.
• Sprouting less than feared.
Four of ReSo Seeds mobile cleaners have gravity separators. When seed cleaning is over they will stay busy improving Hagbergs in wheat. Typically these can be boosted from 180 to 240 by removing about one-third of the weight.