30 May 1997

Ryegrass may be hard to get

PRODUCERS wishing to buy short-term grass mixtures containing Italian ryegrass are urged to order now.

Seed house Barenbrug warns that the 1997 Italian ryegrass harvest will be poorer than expected due to a hard winter on the Continent, and recommends ordering early.

Increased demand for sowing after maize and as an insurance against drought has pushed up demand at a time when production is at a low ebb, adds Jim McVittie, head of grass and forage trials at NIAB.

"Theres a discrepancy between production and demand which always occurs when grass seed prices have been low," says Dr McVittie.

"The increased demand has aggravated this. Theres no way of trying to balance the two."

He warns that some Italian ryegrasses which have not been tested in the UK are being offered for sale. "The risk is that these varieties wont perform as expected. Its up to producers to balance up whether to take seed which they know nothing about or risk not getting seed at all."