22 August 1997

Seed cleaners report big rise in farm-save rape

By Robert Harris

A BIG rise in farm-saved rapeseed this season, thanks to generally low glucosinolate levels, is reported by mobile seed cleaning companies.

Farm-saved seed must contain below 18 micromoles/g for the crop to qualify for area aid. "Micromole tests are better than usual," says Bill Eaton of Oxon-based CYO Seeds. "NIAB report a 70% pass rate, 10% up on last year. Some areas are higher than that." He reports a 15-20% rise in seed throughput this season, 90% of which is Apex.

With typical savings of almost £3/kg on seed (see table) the approach is proving popular this year.

Sunshine has also played a part, says Tim Rogers of Banbury-based TV and JA Rogers. He reckons orders are 20-25% up, near the record seen three years ago. "Good harvest weather makes growers more confident about saving seed."

Charles Goldingham of Golding-ham Contracts, Dursley, Glos, reckons 90% of samples are within the required glucosinolate tolerance. "We have processed a record number of samples." Apex makes up 70% of those, with Capitol and Lizard taking most of the balance.

Germination is good, with most rapeseed well into the 90% plus bracket. NIABs Mike Smith has seen some heat damage, and cracked seed coats caused by moisture swelling cotyledons. Farmers still looking to test seed can use the institutes rapid seed viability (RSV) test, which costs £47 and produces germination results within 48 hours, he advises.

Alternaria and phoma levels are slightly higher than usual, says colleague Jane Thomas. Seed from diseased crops should be tested, costing £51 and £55, respectively. More than 5% infection warrants a seed dressing, she adds.

Mr Eaton favours Rovral (iprodione) + Hydraguard (lindane + thiram), or Vitavax (carboxin + gamma-HCH + thiram), to control seed-borne diseases and cabbage stem flea beetle.

While Mr Rogers recommends dressings, several farmers are avoiding them. "They feel they delay germination, and would rather deal with problems in the growing crop." He has stopped using polymer coatings this season. "Farmers seem to think seed treated with polymers need more moisture to germinate." &#42

Cost of home-saved seed (per kg)

Crop value (@ £135/t)13.5p

Cost of cleaning

and dressing £1.40

Royalty (Apex)£1.18

Total cost£2.71

(Typical cost of bought seed £5.50)

Source: CYO Seeds.


Cost of home-saved seed (per kg)

Crop value (@ £135/t)13.5p

Cost of cleaning

and dressing £1.40

Royalty (Apex)£1.18

Total cost£2.71

(Typical cost of bought seed £5.50)

Source: CYO Seeds.