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Spring-sown Herbage Seed Offers Attractive 2013 Cropping Option

20 December 2012

UK - Spring-sown herbage seed undersown with a companion crop such as spring barley offers arable farmers the significant advantage of three valuable harvests for a single cultivation and drilling cycle.

So points out John Fairey, seed production manager with British Seed Houses, adding that reduced establishment costs are just part of the argument for considering this high-margin break crop this year.

“Demand for British-bred Aber® perennial and hybrid ryegrasses is out-stripping supply and, with margins in the region of £1,500/ha achievable in many circumstances, herbage seed should be an attractive option for a lot of UK arable farmers.

“Sowing herbage seed in the spring alongside a companion cereal such as spring barley, growers will gain the bonus of a grain harvest in the first summer followed by a silage or grazing crop later in the year. In the case of perennial ryegrass, the crop should then produce two consecutive seed harvests in subsequent years, with a further forage crop in between.

“Experienced herbage seed growers often favour spring establishment due to the potential for lower input costs. Firstly, a lower herbage seed rate is required under this regime, whilst the reduced threat of slugs and grass weeds under this system tends to mean less pesticide and herbicide inputs being required.”

Herbage seed traditionally features in combinable crop rotations as an effective break crop for wheat and oilseed rape, in particular offering an alternative approach to grass weed control. It is also effective at improving soil structure and fertility.

British Seed Houses provides free advice on growing, harvesting and storing of herbage seed and offers a seed cleaning and certification service. The company is seeking to place new grower contracts for spring 2013 sowing. Farmers interested in growing herbage seed should contact John Fairey on 07747 784234 or email him at

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