UK wheat growers switch to quality

Given better seed availability than for two seasons, wheat growers are turning to premium varieties to maximise margins in the face of low prices, Openfield seed sales suggest.

“While our sales may be skewed by the number of marketing agreements we have for quality, at the halfway point of the season there’s a clear trend towards added-value wheats this autumn,” said seeds manager, Paul Taylor.

Solstice, Cordiale and Viscount are all proving popular. Oakley is the firm’s top feed choice, followed by Alchemy favoured in the north.

“A £10-15/t premium can make a big difference if base prices are at £80-90/t, and with varieties such as Viscount not far behind Oakley growers are looking to secure what they can from the market,” said Mr Taylor.

He expects sales of specialist market varieties Zircon and Paragon to feature strongly in late autumn and into spring.

High yielding hybrids and two-row feed varieties are the firm’s best selling winter barleys.

Cassata is ahead of the rest in terms of malting, but growers are wary of going this route unless they have contract or central storage deals lined up.”

Nearly doubled sales of hybrid oilseed rape varieties are set to fill almost 40% of a clearly increased crop area, he added.

“With a couple of weeks to go, we’ve already topped last year’s sales.

“We’ve seen a big move towards technical seed treatments with Cruiser OSR and to a lesser extent Modesto outselling older chemistry.”

In the north, Catana has reinforced its position as the firm’s number one variety, while Recommended List candidate DK Cabernet is the biggest southern seller. However, two hybrids – Excalibur for early sowing and Dimension for the more challenging later drillings – are increasingly popular.

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