Cargill warns of impending seed shortage

By FWi staff

FARMERS planning on planting spring crops this year must act quickly if they are to avoid the disappointment of being unable to obtain the crops and varieties they want.

Cargills northern seed manager, Peter Croot, says that the recent dry spell means opportunities to secure spring seed supplies and contracts are dwindling fast.

It is widely speculated that about 50,000ha of land originally intended for winter cereals remained unplanted at the end of 1998.

“And many farmers were hoping for an opportunity in January and February to get at least some of that winter seed drilled,” said Mr Croot.

“But the wet weather start to the year thwarted most of those plans, and has left many growers facing a complete revaluation of spring cropping strategies,” he said.

The rise in demand for spring seed is putting supplies the most popular varieties under increasing pressure and imports of Optic spring barley from Europe have already been needed to meet demand, said Mr Croot.

“Chariot also looks set to sell out soon,” he added.

With good spring wheat varieties virtually impossible to get hold of Mr Croot said that there are few options left available.

“Spring barley should only be grown by those who can do it well and using top quality varieties. Commercial oilseed rape will be hit hard by area aid penalties, leaving industrial crops as the best alternative for many growers,” he said.

But according to the companys UK grain procurement manager, Ian Wallis, variety and crop choice must be matched by an ability to achieve marketable quality.

“There is no point in choosing crops based on gross margin potential, then fail to meet the quality specification needed by the market,” he said.

“Growers must choose crops they are confident can be grown well, whether oilseeds, malting barley or pulses.

“All crops sown this spring must be grown for a specific end market and fulfil contract specifications if margin potentials are to be realised,” he said.

  • Seed sales confirm drop in plantings, FWi, 19 February, 1999

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