Farmers Journal, Andy Doyle, Highlights importance of Certified Seed

In a recent piece written by Andy Doyle, Tillage Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, farmers are being advised of the importance of using Certified Seed. The piece strongly outlines the benefits from growing certified seed. Many growers are finding strange grass weeds emerging from their previously clean crops and according to the piece it is important that these are identified prior to the harvest and to be classified as to their state of resistance for future control.

Most serious tillage farmers will be aware of the growing problem of grass weeds and the implication and cost for crop production. The Irish seed industry has set itself high standards for grass weed seed contamination and this is effectively zero-tolerance for the crop in the field and the seed in the bag.

The seed trade (ISTA) has opted for zero-tolerance for a number of grass weeds such as wild oats, sterile brome and black grass and commercial growers have also become acutely aware of the importance of this. When any of these grasses get into fields intended for seed production then cost could be complete loss of crop certification.

This has a domino effect as the seed customer will also be under threat because the seed will not be available to them. This is why we (ISTA) have been actively involved in part-funding a Teagasc research project to assess the current state of resistance or susceptibility to different herbicide families in a range of serious grass weeds.

Early findings from this work was presented at the Teagasc Tillage Conference last spring. An interim report was published in Teagasc’s recent T-Research magazine (Volume 12: Number 2). The presence of resistance to herbicides will either change the control strategy that must be used while increasing its cost, or it could make control either difficult or impossible using herbicides. This could be critical for certified seed production.

PhD student Ronan Byrne is taking charge of the project and the other Teagasc people also involved include John Spink, Susanne Barth. It also includes Tim O’Donovan, formerly of Teagasc. The report authors define herbicide resistance as “the evolved ability of a plant to survive a dose of herbicide that would normally be lethal to it”. Given the increasing reports of the presence of resistance in our grass weeds, it is hardly surprising that there is research to help understanding the nature of this resistance.

The Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA) represents multipliers, producers and distributors of certified seed in Ireland. Its role is to promote the use of certified seed in tillage, forage and grassland crops and to ensure the best varieties of seed are made available to Irish farmers. As sowing time approaches, we strongly encourage growers to sow only certified seed and help Irish tillage farming maintain it’s high standards.