Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Top tips for growers when ‘over-yearing’ winter seed

January 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Crops

Cereal growers carrying carry over unused winter seed from this season’s washout winter into next season are being urged to take adequate steps to protect its viability.

Losses are likely to occur in storage unless seed is properly looked after, says ProCam seed manager Lee Harker. Germination in autumn 2020 could also suffer, leading to potential yield reductions come harvest 2021, he adds.

“Clearly, it is impossible to predict how well every batch of cereal seed originally purchased for planting in autumn or winter 2019 will perform if drilled in autumn 2020,” says Mr Harker.

“What we can say, however, is that if it isn’t stored correctly and managed properly prior to planting, it will suffer losses.”

Many people are comparing the current situation with over-yearing seed from the challenging 2012 harvest to the following autumn in 2013. Fortunately, harvest 2019 was drier, so seed this time around is drier and of better quality – so should keep better.

Precautions needed

Even so, Mr Harker says there are important precautions when over-yearing seed. For a start, it should be kept in original unopened bags if possible – and stored in cool, dry conditions to minimise the chance of premature germination, and protected from frost.

“Ensure also that labels remain intact for easy identification of the variety and any seed treatments used – and seal any ripped bags against moisture such as humidity or dew. Ideally, raise bags off the floor on a pallet to allow airflow and to protect against damage.”

Vermin should be kept out of storage areas to prevent rodents chewing through bags and causing seed losses. This can happen either through direct feeding or more likely through seed leaking out, which then attracts more vermin.

Regular checks on vermin control should be carried out through the entire storage period, stresses Mr Harker.

Seed rates

Germination percentage will almost certainly decline to some degree during storage, so it is essential that over-yeared seed is tested for germination before planting, and seed rates adjusted accordingly.

Vigour can also be affected during storage, and can’t easily be tested for. But where seed is of good quality, with a decent thousand grain weight, plump grains normally provide good food reserves to give it the strength to get away.

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