UK spring seed supply under pressure

Growers who have not yet made spring crop decisions are being encouraged to act now as unprecedented autumn weather has put pressure on UK spring seed supplies.

Wynnstay combinable crops manager, Jonathan Baxendale, says current predictions are that around only 55% of winter cereals have been drilled nationwide. And, with many of these struggling to establish, there is concern over limited spring seed availability.

“The current scenario means spring barley is proving to be in extremely high demand,” says Mr Baxendale.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in spring barley acreage over the past few years on the back of growers looking at cultural control methods for blackgrass.

“As it stands this year, with an even higher demand, popular varieties are selling fast and it’s advisable to order sooner rather than later to source your variety of choice.”

Other spring cropping options

He explains that very early in the season, UK spring wheat seed were strong.

“Since then a large amount of seed has been imported from Europe to cope with demand.”

If wheat remains the variety of choice, he says growers may still have the opportunity to drill winter wheat, with some varieties being safe to drill up until the end of February.

“If you’re looking to do this, I would advise consulting the AHDB Recommended List to check the safest, latest variety specific sowing dates, and act sooner rather than later.”

He adds growers should not underestimate the place that break crops have within rotations.

“There are still options in terms of spring oats and spring pulses too, but again there’s pressure on demand.

“Alternatively, spring oilseed rape is a good option, and has seen increase in demand due to the OSR price firming. As well as this, there’s also the potential to explore more forage crop options such as grass mixtures, root crops and maize,” he says.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.