17 August 2001

Light packs of OSR seed are causing concern

CHECK oilseed rape seed packs – they may weigh less than you think, warns NFU arable specialist Paul Ibbott.

In recent years there has been a move to sell some varieties by area pack, for example a 4ha bag containing 22.5kg.

But some otherwise apparently similar packs contain only 20kg this year, he notes.

Smaller seed could be the reason, says a United Oilseeds spokesman, who notes that growers should sow by seed numbers, not weight – for conventional varieties about 120 seeds/sq m and for hybrids about 70.

But Kent farmer and NFU oilseeds committee member Jamie Clark is unhappy.

"We do not sow by pack size. We decide what we are going to use on the day depending on seed-beds and conditions. It could be anything from 2-6kg/ha."

Even where growers sow by seed count, most drills are set by weight/ha.

"We do sow by thousand seed weight, but I want to buy by the kilogram," says Mr Clark.

"We ordered two conventional varieties. I was told the pack size has changed, but there has been no reduction in price. We may still be getting the same number of seeds, but it is a con. The price should come down when the seed is smaller.

"I do not want to be dictated to by the seed houses. If the seed had been very bold and 4ha packs had to contain 25kg you can bet the price would have gone up. After all they buy from farmers on weight." &#42