24 July 1998


DRESSING over-wintered grain for sowing the following autumn is on the increase. Mobile cleaners across the country are reporting a surge in business as growers cut input costs and tighten drilling deadlines.

"We are handling twice the volume as last year," says Peter Smeaton, seeds manager of Lincolnshire distributor Agro-chem South. "The majority are larger farms who have planned to over-winter seed. But some growers are just getting left-over grain tested and dressed. Given the price of feed wheat, and the cost of retail seed, its not hard to see why."

Over-wintered grain is tested for germination and vigour as standard. "A lot can have happened during a year in store. Germination may be fine but vigour can drop dramatically. It is in both the growers and our interest to make sure the seed is going to grow."

Testing for seed-borne disease is optional "Personally, due to the high level of fusarium last harvest, I would forget about testing and use a seed-dressing routinely for over-wintered seed," says Mr Smeaton.

Growers tempted to use left-over grain for seed should ask themselves whether the field was free of weeds such as cleavers or wild oats, which are difficult to clean out of seed, and was the grain dried and stored at temperatures suitable for seed.

In the west midlands a similar increase in demand is reported by ReSo. Orders to the end of June exceeded the entire over-wintered volume handled last year, says partner Frank Littlehales. &#42

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