Growers urged to act now to secure spring crop contracts

Growers who are considering cutting back on their winter cropping area due to the wet autumn and switching to spring options will need to move fast to secure a contract.

Rebecca Gibson, Agrii’s seed manager for the North, said the company is already completely sold out of spring wheat, normally one of the last spring options to go, as growers try to fulfil existing contracts.

Similarly, although seed is still available, spring malting barley is unlikely to be a highly profitable option due to the volume that will be grown now that the window for drilling winter barley has closed, driving down premiums.

See also: Lift seed rates for winter beans drilled very late

However, for those growers who are not obligated to fulfil existing contracts there are some more niche options available.

One crop with contracts still available is spring naked oats, which offer between £30-45/t over AHDB feed-wheat price, depending on when they are moved.

“Naked oats provide a break crop, they are very competitive against blackgrass and with a contract you have the security of growing for an end market,” said Ms Gibson.

More niche options include tic beans for pigeon feed and brown linseed and canary seed contracts for bird food mixes.

Both yellow and blue peas provide contract options, but these may not be such an appealing choice following the loss of diquat as a desiccant.

“There are lots of minor crops out there, but the difficulty is finding one that fits the rotation,” she said.

“However, as ever, the limiting factor is that seed supply is tight. If considering a spring option, book early.”