Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Plan seeding requirement now to secure best varieties

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Grain growers will need to get in their orders for autumn-sown crops soon if they want to get the latest varieties most in demand.

Already, the popular winter oilseed-rape variety, Excalibur, is virtually sold out, as the overall acreage of OSR is expected to take another huge leap.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see an increase of 50pc in the acreage of winter OSR sown over the coming weeks," said Donal Fitzgerald, general manager at Goldcrop and president of the Irish seed trade association.

Despite the fact that winter OSR acreage has effectively doubled in the past number of years to its current 9,000ha, Mr Fitzgerald believes there is scope for further expansion in the crop.


"It has been the star performer of the harvest so far, with most growers averaging €350-360/t between forward and spot selling," he said. "There's 32,000ha of sugar-beet after falling out of the system and growers are only now developing the confidence in the crop.

"Up to now, growers were more confident with winter wheat. It is a high-input crop, so it was considered a bigger risk than the traditional crops such as barley or wheat. But with winter OSR now able to deliver a similar margin to winter wheat, there is real momentum behind the crop."

The most popular varieties listed on the Department of Agriculture's recommended list are Osprey and Flash.

Also Read

However, two new varieties also proving popular that are not on the recommended list are Monsanto's Excalibur and DK Cabernet.

These have both been listed on the UK's HGCA list and offer all the increased shedding resistance, higher oil content and lodging resistance that growers have come to expect of modern OSR varieties.

"Osprey is probably the best variety for a grower new to the crop to begin with," said Mr Fitzgerald.

He is quoting €30-32/ac for the hybrid varieties planting at 50 seeds/m2, while the standard varieties are costing €24-25/ac at a planting rate of 80 seeds/m2.

Experts are also predicting a jump in the acreage of winter wheat being planted this year, with some estimates suggesting the total area could hit 80,000ha.

The varieities to watch for the coming year, according to Mr Fitzgerald, are JB Diego and Gravitas.


"Some growers have already achieved as high as 5.5t/ac with these new varieties this year," he said.

"2011 appears to be a year that suits the later maturing varieties such as Lion and Sahara.

"It may be that they had greater septoria resistance compared to the early maturing types."

Mr Fitzgerald said that wheat seed prices have increased by around 4pc this year to a range of €500-530 for standard treated seed. Latitude is adding an extra €2.60/t, while barley seed is costing around €10/t less.

"Six-row varieties such as Leibniz did above average this year and, as a result, the six-row hybrid varieties in winter barley are sold out," said Mr Fitzgerald.

"Leibniz and Cassia will be the most popular this year and account for nearly 50pc of winter barley seed sales.

"Cassia is basically a Saffron mark II with 5pc extra yield. But older varieities such as Saffron, Anisette and Famosa will also be popular."

Indo Farming