Order wheat seed early or risk losing out

Seed supply for autumn 2013 is coming into question, with the winter wheat area estimated to be about 15-20% down and uncertainty over the yield potential of later-sown crops.

It is inevitable that seed supply will be affected, said distributor Agrii’s national arable seed product manager Barry Barker.

“With winter wheat we can’t import seed to cover any shortfall, as most of our varieties are UK-specific.”

The cut-off for entering winter cereal crops into the certified multiplication (C2) seed area is traditionally at the end of January.

However, this year it was extended for about a month as growers were forced to sow winter crops late, said Gleadell seeds manager Chris Guest.

“The area of C2 seed is about 3% down, according to NIAB figures, but this isn’t an accurate reflection of the likely reduction in seed, with many crops having poor yield potential,” Mr Guest said, warning growers to “get their name on seed” or risk disappointment.

He expected winter barley seed supply to also come up short, particularly some new varieties.

Although home-saving could be a popular option to counter seed shortage, Mr Barker warned that it would still be sensible to order a proportion of certified seed.

“Mobile cleaners will be under pressure with a rise in demand, so ensure there is some seed on farm to get a good entry into next season,” he said.

Growers who had surplus seed originally ordered for autumn 2012 should get it tested for viability, he said.

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