14 June 2002

Shortage of grass seed on market

WET conditions worldwide and continuing reductions in farm incomes have caused a shortage of grass seed in the marketplace, but the subsequent increase in prices shouldnt deter producers from reseeding.

A wet harvest in New Zealand, together with a wet autumn in many parts of Europe, preventing crops being planted, has led to a lowering of seed availability, according to seed industry sources. These factors coupled with a reduction in acreages producing seed lowered the tonnage available.

"The very small acreage coming onto the market in Europe is down in yield due to wet conditions across Denmark and Holland. This combined with already empty warehouses in the UK is creating dramatic shortages," says Ian Misselbrook of Advanta Seeds.

"European harvests have been down for a number of years as producers turn to more profitable crops in an effort to stabilise farm incomes," adds David Keegan of DLF.

According to Barenburg, the problem extends to white clover with a poor New Zealand harvest. Prices for all grasses and white clover are set to increase by about £10/ha (£4/acre). And seed shortages are likely to get worse over the next few years with a 35% reduction in the European industry, says the company.

"Even with these price increases grass seed is still relatively inexpensive when compared with the clear benefits gained from reseeding," adds Athole Marshall of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research. &#42