With the wheat area for the 2019/20 season falling by an estimated 17 per cent as a result of difficult planting conditions, considerable amounts of overyeared seed remain on farm.
And as growers look ahead to drilling, David Spencer of NIAB’s Official Seed Testing Station says, on the whole, seed that has been received at the facility for germination testing is faring well, including dressed seed
Of 217 wheat samples sent in, 96 per cent have met the 85 per cent germination standard for certification.
Mr Spencer says: “There might be the odd one or two samples that have not been stored properly but the bulk are looking fine. We have had quite a bit of wheat, but we do not seem to get as much barley now.
“Years ago you would get seeds that were damaged by seed treatments, but nowadays you very rarely see any dressing damage.”
All 47 barley samples met the 85 per cent germination standard for certification, Mr Spencer says.
Syngenta is reporting similar positive reports for its overyeared hybrid barley, which is averaging 96 per cent germination across all samples.
James Taylor-Alford, head of seed crop sales for UK and Ireland at Syngenta, which is offering growers a free germination test for hybrid barley this year in light of last season’s planting conditions, says: “By knowing your percentage germination and your target plant population and taking account of other factors, such as the normal plant losses you experience, the number of seeds that should be planted per metre squared can be more accurately calculated.”
However, some field beans that have been tested are only reaching 50-60 per cent germination due to mechanical damage, says Mr Spencer.
“If it is too dry when processed or moved, the radicle and quite often the plumule fracture from the cotyledons preventing germination. The standard germination for field beans is normally 80 per cent. However, last year there was a lot of mechanical and insect damage and the EU allowed us to certify at a reduced germination standard of 70 per cent.”