2014-06-27   facebook twitter rss

Seed Trade Association Celebrates 100 Years

The annual Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA) Open Day, hosted by the Irish Dept. of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, took place on June 25 at the Department’s crops trial site at Backweston, Leixlip, Co. Kildare.

The large attendance were fortunate that the rain stayed away. DAFM personnel briefed those present on the trial results available from 350 crop varieties under evaluation.

Pictured L2R are Jim Gibbons, Germinal Seeds with  Tom Bryan, President of ISTA and Clodagh Whelan, Assistant Inspector, DAFM discussing a crop barley

Pictured L2R are Jim Gibbons, Germinal Seeds with Tom Bryan, President of ISTA and Clodagh Whelan, Assistant Inspector, DAFM discussing a crop barley

According to Clodagh Whelan of the Crop Evaluation and Seed Certification Division these include 98 barley, 53 wheat, 29 oat winter and spring varieties. There are also 23 oil seed rape, five beans and 90 grass seed varieties.

This event was well attended by representatives from the seed trade and general merchant businesses, food and beverage related industries, ag-chem sector, crop consultants, DAFM personnel, feed and grain trade, food industry, flour millers, IFA, malting industry, Teagasc tillage specialists, UCD etc.

Visitors were able to check out a large range of new varieties of winter/spring cereals (barley, oats, wheat), forage maize (covered & uncovered), grass, and oil seed rape. DAFM personnel explained how these varieties are performing in the challenging Irish climate and under varying rotations/soil conditions.

According to Tom Bryan, President of ISTA “cereal crops established well this year and got off to a good start due to the excellent quality of Irish certified seed assembled last harvest.” Mr Bryan pointed out that the C1 Blue Label certified seed available to Irish growers is of the highest standards and assembled under the strict supervision of the Dept. of Agriculture.

In addition, all cleaning, packing and seed treatment is done in a controlled environment using hi tech equipment to ensure full traceability at all times. He went on to say that “plant breeding and the commercial introduction of a new variety is expensive and time consuming. On average it takes 10 years before a new variety is ready for the market. This process has to be continually funded to ensure viability.”

The ISTA Deputy President, Donal Fitzgerald reiterated that quality was carefully monitored at every stage of the production process by DAFM personnel from the seed crop growing in the field to sampling of the various varieties packaged for sale to commercial cereal growers.

He pointed out that many ISTA members now provide a 1,000 grain weight to facilitate more accurate seeding rates. This information is essential for modern precision farming said Donal and will help cereal growers to get the most out of each variety and also reduce their seed costs per ha.

Tom and Donal were quite positive about future market prospects. Mr. Bryan said that Irish whiskey sales are increasing worldwide and the expansion of the Jameson distillery in Midleton is good news for Irish growers of malting barley as was the increasing number of Irish craft breweries. Indeed there are now almost 40 craft brewers in Ireland.

Donal Fitzgerald went on to say that both Flahavans and Glanbia have increased their processing facilities for food grade oats and there is good market potential in the USA and elsewhere. He also pointed out that Connolly’s RED MILLS, a major user of equine oats has become the first in the world to secure a licence to import horse feed into mainland China.

These markets are inherently linked to the use of certified seed which is the ultimate guarantee of authenticity and quality. Looking ahead, Tom and Donal anticipate good yields this autumn, with an increased area sown to winter barley. This crop has been performing well and has replaced continuous winter wheat on many farms.

ISTA also points out that there are a record number of dairy cows in the state and milk production will increase significantly after EU quotas are abolished next April, so there will be an increased demand for animal feed. In addition progressive milk producers are contracting with tillage farmers to grow forage maize, wholecrop silage, fodder beet etc. This makes more economic sense than paying exorbitant prices for renting grazing land.


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