Breeders issue autumn seed supply warning difficulties

13 July 2001

Breeders issue autumn seed supply warning difficulties

By Tom Allen-Stevens

SEED breeders have warned growers to get their autumn supplies ordered as soon as possible or risk being unable to find the variety they want.

The supply problem is a result of low plantings last year and a high demand for cereals for the coming season. Forecasts put next years cereal area at between 1.7m ha and 2.3m ha, a rise of over 40%.

Varieties most at risk from running short are the new rising stars of the NIAB Recommended List. High-yielding feed wheat Tanker, new quality wheat Xi-19 and group two variety Option are tipped to be popular requests this year.

"The demand for Option will be around 17,000t, but we only have enough to supply about 13,000t," says PBICs John Howie, who has been carrying out market research to gauge uptake of the variety (See Arable, p49).

He adds that late-drilled wheat Charger will be in short supply because growers were unable to drill into an adequate seed-bed at the back end of last autumn. "We can probably supply about 3% of the wheat market, but could expect demand for up to 6%."

Nickerson Seeds marketing manager Frank Curtis says: "Until the combines go in, no one knows just how bad the situation is."

Growers are also reluctant to dip into the market, believes Mr Howie. "Many were stung by being unable to drill the seed they had ordered last year, so are reluctant to make advance orders."

Peter Croot, seeds manager for Banks Cargill, has almost sold out of Tanker and Xi-19, but shares concerns that orders have been slow. "This years crop is later and there is a significant demand for early-sown varieties. All the pressure is going to be brought forward."

Early signs are that seed will also cost more. Varieties such as Charger are already trading at £260/t, nearly £40/t above last years stable value. Price moves in the cereal market have put £10-£15/t on seed costs, says Mr Croot, who reckons Claire seed – currently worth about £235-£250/t – reflects this market rise.

Banks Cargills new state-of-the-art seed plant at Sandy, Beds, could ease the pressure over early seed supply. At 60t/hour, it has the fastest throughput of any in the UK, says chairman Richard Banks.

"We are in a strong position to meet the early market. The plant is fully automated and can be run at night. We also have our own fleet of lorries, so logistics wont be a problem," says Mr Banks.

The company hopes to run 18,000t of seed this autumn through the new plant, which at full capacity could process 30,000t over the same period. &#42

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