Test wheat for disease

FEARS THAT high levels of disease and low germination will hit wheat establishment are unfounded, provided effective testing and seed treatments are used, says the seed trade.

But the poor harvest means some varieties will be short. Growers must be prepared to switch variety if they haven‘t already ordered, advised Banks Cargill seed director Charlie Whitmarsh.

“Fusarium infection is being found, both in seed and grain samples, and in certain areas germinations have also been under pressure.” But neither problem need concern most growers, he said.

“Most will use seed treated with an effective seed treatment as a matter of course.

“Single purpose dressings are more than adequate at controlling any seed-borne disease and buying certified means a minimum germination standard of 85%.”

Growers using farm-saved seed should get it tested for germination and seed-borne disease, he advised.

“The weather affected some crops significantly and you can‘t rely on visual symptoms.”

Analysis of 7000t of Banks Cargill wheat seed last week showed average germination above the company‘s 95% target.

“Germination problems aren‘t widespread nationally, they‘re a local issue,” Mr Whitmarsh noted.

But Robigus, Claire and some Group 1 varieties have sold out already, he added – a view echoed by James Wallace of Daltons Seeds.

“There‘s enough seed of the required standard to go round, but growers may not get their first choice of variety.”

Lincs and Yorks have been worst hit, he continued. “Crops were more forward when the rain came, so they had higher germination losses.”

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