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Shortage of spring cereal seed rattles tillage sector

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Jim Gibbons of Germinal Seed

Jim Gibbons of Germinal Seed

Jim Gibbons of Germinal Seed

Tillage farmers were facing trouble on the treble as a serious shortage of spring cereal seed, a hike in prices and atrocious weather combined to rattle the sector.

A severe shortage of seed supplies for spring barley, spring wheat and spring beans has resulted in a major hike in prices.

Farmers report that spring barley seed is up about €50 a ton on last year to €490-520/t, where merchants have supplies and growers have the seed booked. If merchants have to source seed, then prices are up €70/t.

Bean seed is proving very difficult to source. There are reports in the industry that prices are up €100/t to around €680-700/t.

Disastrous autumn sowing conditions has resulted in the area of spring crops increasing by 60,000-70,000ha for this year's harvest.

The area sown to spring cereal crops for the 2019 harvest was 130,000-140,000ha.

However, Michael Hennessy of Teagasc said this could increase to 190,000-200,000ha this year if seed can be sourced.

But industry sources admitted that the seed requirements for spring crops remained unclear since the exact acreage sown to winter cereals is not known.

In addition, a high percentage of crops sown last autumn have failed due to the bad weather, therefore the area to be resown to spring crops will have to be factored into overall requirements.

The poor weather has also exacerbated the seed supply problems by limiting the amount of winter sowings over the last few weeks.

"There was a window there for sowing winter crops but Storm Ciara put an end to that," one grower told the Farming Independent.

Spring wheat seed is also reported to be very tight.

"Spring wheat seed is scarce right across Europe, particularly varieties that we are familiar with in Ireland," Jim Gibbons of Germinal Seed said.

Mr Gibbons said farmers were looking at planting alternative crops such as spring oilseed rape, maize, fodder beet and peas because of the shortage of seed supplies for more traditional cereals.

Growers are also considering leaving ground fallow or switching it to grassland, the Farming Independent has been told.

Indo Farming