Farmers currently reviewing their arable options should consider British-bred herbage seed as a viable alternative to other spring-sown crops, given strong and growing demand for the product and competitive margins.
Herbage seed harvesting
According to British Seed Houses seed production manager John Fairey, perennial ryegrass can be under-sown with a spring cereal or linseed, for example, to produce a seed crop the following year.
“The advantages of spring under-sowing over autumn establishment include the bonus of an autumn and winter grazing and savings in cultivation costs,” he points out. “It is a tried and tested method favoured by many of our regular herbage seed growers.
“Herbage seed crops can offer gross margins in the region of £700 - £1,000/ha, plus additional revenue from grazing and the seed crop straw that can be baled for feed or bedding. It is certainly comparable with many alternative cropping options and is an excellent break crop from cereals and oilseed rape.”
One of the main prerequisites for growers is access to an on-floor drying facility, as herbage seed must be dried to a maximum moisture content of 14% and direct heat should never be applied. It is also important that fields selected for the crop have not grown grass for at least four years and have no history of significant grass weed problems.
“We are actively seeking new growers for the Aber high sugar ryegrass varieties that are so much in demand,” adds John Fairey. “We offer a minimum price contract and provide agronomic advice and all the appropriate support as part of the contract agreement. Seed cleaning and certification is all taken care of by British Seed Houses.”
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