Consider overyeared Winter Wheat Seed for early drilling

Paul Huntley, Cereal Seeds Director at McCreath Simpson and Prentice, discusses the benefits of considering overyeared Winter Wheat Seed for early drilling.

An area MSP has sought to develop in recent years is the production and supply of overyeared winter wheat seed.

The trend in our trading area (North) has been to earlier drilling of wheat seed in the Autumn, the complete opposite of the move towards later drilling in the south of the country.  This earlier drilling, in particular of first wheats after oilseed rape or fallow, might be seen as a consequence of the general increase in farm size in recent years and the ever-increasing need to better manage time and resources.  Drilling earlier in the Autumn before weather and land conditions deteriorate can also help with critical crop establishment, getting at least some fields under the belt and off to a good start.

Earlier drilling, of course, means the demand for wheat seed on farm also becomes earlier.  However, with many customers also now preferring to source their wheat seed from crops grown locally in the blackgrass free areas of Scotland and the North of England, these crops may not always be able to be harvested quick enough to allow the seed to be conditioned, tested, processed, certified and delivered back on to farm in time for early season drilling.  The tight turnaround time can prove a challenge, especially in late years, and the only guaranteed way of ensuring the early supply of locally grown wheat seed on to farm is to overyear it.

Customer demand for this has been growing steadily, to the extent where we now plan seed crops two years in advance specifically to supply wheat seed to carry over to the following year.  A wide selection of popular varieties is normally considered, with particular emphasis on those varieties exhibiting the slow development habits which make them most suitable for early drilling.

Careful quality control is paramount throughout, and only the most robust seed lots are selected to carry forward to ensure they will still be capable of meeting the highest standards of germination and purity the following year.

The wheat seed is brought in to the Plant in late Autumn to be cleaned and certified in to tote bags before being stored “recleaned only” in a dedicated vermin free warehouse.  The following Spring it is thoroughly resampled and tested to ensure the quality has been maintained, before having the customers choice of seed treatments added to it.  The seed can then be delivered to farm in July and August in good time for early drilling.

For ourselves, the process can be labour intensive and the risks of potential issues such as quality deterioration, price volatility and varieties falling out of favour, all need to be carefully managed.  However, it helps us to reduce the September seed production bottleneck and spreads the workload, enabling us to improve our operational efficiency and level of customer service.

Ultimately, the supply of overyeared wheat seed is popular with many of our farmer customers whilst also helping with our own logistics, a win:win situation which is hopefully of benefit to everyone.

To find out more, please contact us or call Paul Huntley directly on 01289 333361