Tests reveal saved seed woes

TESTING OF farm saved seed has revealed a host of quality concerns across much of the UK, forcing some farmers to change plans and buy in more certified seed, says Dalgety.

The firm, which runs nine mobile seed processing units across the country found massive variability in the quality of later cut crops earmarked for drilling this season.

High screenings, vigour and germination problems are big issues in many areas, with crops harvested after the summer rains faring particularly badly, according to reports from the firm‘s seed processors.

In Lincolnshire samples are “quite horrific,” said the firm‘s Sam Martin.

“We‘ve seen a lot of fusarium and quite a few samples have failed on germination and vigour. It‘s worse than I‘ve seen in the past – there‘s not the bulk in the grain you‘d usually find.”

But much of the farm saved seed in East Anglia is acceptable for processing, according to Nigel Day, Chairman of Mobile Seed Processors at Anglia Grain Services.

“The bulk of our samples have come back remarkably good. Volumes processed this year are likely to be similar to 2003.”

A similar view is shared by Dalgety‘s David Steel, who operates the mobile processing units out of Fife.

“Generally the wheat quality is very good,” he said.

“The bushel weights are holding up quite well and I haven‘t heard of a single sample that has failed following testing.”

Vigour is the biggest issue for farm-saved seed growers in the West, according to Ludlow-based agronomist Graham Jenkins.

“Growers should save the high vigour seed for later plantings or consider raising the seed rate.”

Testing seed is vital this year. Companies such as Dalgety can give overnight results on vigour, germination, thousand grain weight and seed-borne diseases, he said.