Grass seed will be in short supply in 2012

SHORT supply and increased Europe-wide demand means UK farmers will be paying up to 50 per cent more for their grass seed in 2012, compared to this time last year.

But this should not put them off reseeding or renovating under-performing pastures, says Tim Kerridge of seed supplier DLF Trifolium. He believes investment is still worthwhile.

“A £20 rise in the cost of an acre of grass seed adds just 82 pence to the cost of producing one tonne of grass dry matter,” says Mr Kerridge.

“A 20 per cent fall in grass yield due to tired, worn out pasture, however, could reduce milk output from grass by more than 50 per cent. This is because cows take energy from what they eat to maintain themselves first, before diverting whatever is left into milk production.”

Stockpile

A stockpile in 2008 and high cereal prices drove arable farmers in Europe to switch from producing grass seed to wheat; a less risky and cheaper crop to manage.

But recent hard winters have hammered older pastures in the UK, and low grass growth in 2010 and 2011, after two dry springs, stimulated an increase in re-seeding. Over the same period, European consumption of grass seed rose by 20 per cent.

“There will be grass seed to buy this spring, but we would encourage farmers to earmark the mixtures that will help them meet their grassland objectives, and to order early to secure the best available varieties,” says Mr Kerridge.

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