THE prolonged wet, cold spring and hot, dry summer hit both yield and quality of many crops in 2017-18, the impact on seed availability for next spring is now becoming clearer, according to Hutchinsons.

David Bouch, the firm’s seeds manager, said they were not expecting a widespread shortage of all spring seed, but demand is certainly likely to outweigh supply for some preferred varieties.

He said the situation was most acute for spring pulses, which like winter pulses, were hit hard by late drilling and extreme weather earlier in the year, raising question marks over the volume and quality of available seed.

Poor establishment and crop growth reduced spring bean yields in many areas, while the exceptionally hot, dry summer also caused more seed splitting at harvest, which reduces seed germination.

Mr Bouch said: “Some people may switch to peas as an alternative to beans, but these haven’t had a good year either, so supply could be equally tight.”

Looking at cereals, he expects the volume of spring barley seed will also be down on previous years due to lower yields and the impact of hot weather on quality.

“Spring barley is sometimes prone to dormancy issues anyway, but if that’s coupled with a low germination year caused by high temperatures affecting the germ inside the seed, it will compound the problems for seed availability.”

He also said, reports suggest some seed crops have struggled to meet the grade due to high screenings. There is likely to be a similarly tight supply of spring oat seed, while the availability of spring wheat may be less of a concern.

Good progress with winter drilling in the open autumn and a move away from spring crops by some growers following a couple of difficult years, may help the spring seed situation, but he said is unlikely to alleviate the supply pressure.

“There’s still some uncertainty as to exactly how much will be available from suppliers, but if you have a requirement for spring seed and know what you want, then it is worth placing orders sooner rather than later,@ said Mr Bouch. “Historically many growers wait until January before ordering seed for sowing in February or March, but a lot of preferred varieties could be in short supply or sold out by then.”