Focus on Certified Seed in niche markets

The second edition of Focus on Certified Seed was featured in the Irish Farmers Journal on 20th February 2016 with six pages exploring the use of certified seed in niche markets including the gluten-free and porridge oat markets and the growth in craft malt for distilling and brewing. All these markets require full product traceability and certified seed provides growers with that confidence. The articles included interviews with a number of farmers who produce crops for these niche markets and with Paul Bury, a plant breeder, who is developing new varieties to meet the evolving needs of the malting markets.

Mark Reynier, of Waterford Distillery, said, “The only ingredients in our whiskeys are barley, water and yeast. Great whiskey is about the flavours and aromas derived from the process. Whiskey is regarded as the most complex spirit of all because it is made from barley.” And the objective of this new distillery is to highlight the uniqueness of regions, growers and fields to help generate a diversity of flavours and aromas. With the help of Boortmalt, they get barley from 46 growers that represent 26 different soil types. Certified seed provides the variety purity and traceability needed.

In Kildare, the Doherty family have a long tradition of oat production, including other winter crops. Pat Doherty’s father, Paddy, would have been one of the first oat growers for Odlums. And 2016 is the first year he has grown gluten-free oats which is only planted after a break crop or ley. It is harvested by a dedicated Glanbia harvesting unit. Seed production, selection, certification and keeping other cereal grains out of the sample at all stages of production is critical.

Higher voluntary standards associated with producing C1 malting barley seed are a continuous challenge for Ivan Holden who farms in Co Carlow. Rotation in a field means that certified seed would be grown only every third or fourth year. As Ivan said this is critical because “we are growing seed for next year’s crop and we have a duty of care to all the farmers who purchase this seed to grow their crops for their livelihood.”

The Ring family has been growing barley on Cobh Island for generations and their main crop is barley for malting. They insist on attention to detail for certified seed production by ensuring their land is free of weeds such as wild oats, canary grass and sterile brome. Rogueing seed crops normally begins in early July and is done thoroughly twice. Emphasis is put on every part of the production process and the use of certified seed is the first critical step.

The reasons for the use of certified seed instead of home saved seed for beans were outlined, with certified seed giving the grower assurance that it has been grown, dried, stored, packed and handled to ensure that quality is maintained and impurities such as seed-borne diseases and the presence of harmful microscopic pests have been tested for.

Finally, Paul Bury, head malting barley breeder of Syngenta, Market Stainton, spoke about how yield improvements in malting barley breeding have come from improved environmental hardiness, with the focus in recent times to select for stress tolerance and yield stability traits.

The full Focus on Certified Seed feature and articles are available online through the Irish Farmers Journal website.

Focus on Certified Seed in Irish Farmers Journal

A Focus on Certified Seed featured in the Irish Farmers Journal on 22nd August 2015, with 8 pages of articles on the standards for certified seed in Ireland, plant breeding and royalties, the challenge of grass weeds, and the views of Irish cereal seed growers.

In Ireland, over 8000ha are dedicated each year to the production of Irish certified cereal seed, with the annual market for cereal seed at around 38,000 to 40,000 tonnes. The seed industry, together with the Irish Seed Trade Association which comprises representatives from the Department of Agriculture, the seed houses and seed assemblers, ensure that Ireland has the highest standards for its cereal seed in Europe.

These strict standards ensure the quality of Irish certified seed, assurance of its cleanliness, and guarantee each bag of seed is high in purity, has good germination capacity and is free from major pests and diseases. ISTA also operates a higher voluntary standard of zero tolerance for contaminants like wild oats, sterile brome and blackgrass.

Renowned plant breeder, Chris Tapsell, KWS, spoke about new varieties which are needed to improve characteristics for disease resistance, better grain quality and increase plant yield. Seed royalties, payable to plant breeders, are also a critical income generator for investment in the production of new varieties and new breeding capabilities. But the challenges going forward including increased complexity, expense, lack of new young plant breeders, the potential effects of global warming, water use efficiency and other environmental concerns. Indeed, the cost of producing a new variety has gone from £1m to £2m over the last 20 years.

The farming businesses of three certified seed producers who work to the high standards required for Irish certified seed were profiled in the publication. In Co. Cork, Liam Day from Ardnabourkey, Whitegate, said ‘it’s all about getting the most out of each acre that you farm, and paying attention to detail at all times’. Barley is the main crop grown, with winter wheat, oats, beet, maize, beans and grass and they have strict systems in place for crop/field hygiene to keep grain yields and quality high.

Ivan Hemeryck operates a large diverse tillage farm outside Lucan, Co. Dublin, growing potatoes, wheat, barley, oats, beans and oilseed rape. A strong supporter of certified seed and the variety evaluation system, he is always keen to incorporate new varieties that show improved yield potential and is currently preparing to plant the two parents to produce hybrid barley seed in 2016.

Outside Carlow town, Clive Bayley and his father Melvin grow fodder beet, and wheat, barley, oats, oilseed rape, spring beans, and gluten-free oats. Certified seed is a premium crop and he said ‘I need to be sure that the seed is pure and free of any contaminants that could, in turn, be an issue with imported seed or for the quality requirements of the final crop'.

Read the full Focus on Certified Seed 8 page spread in the Irish Farmers Journal out 22 August 2015.

24th August 2015

ISTA Open Day 2015, Kildalton, Co Kilkenny

The Irish Seed Trade Association’s (ISTA) annual Open Day 2015 visited the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine cereal trials, on Tuesday last, July 7 at Kildalton College, Piltown, Co Kilkenny.

There was a very large attendance at this year’s event with representatives from every aspect of cereal production including crop consultants, Department personnel, Teagasc tillage specialists, seed suppliers, cereal growers, agro chemical and animal feed suppliers and the malting industry, from agri-business sectors in the UK and Ireland.

ISTA Vice President, Jim Gibbons, commented on the critical role the Department and its cereal variety evaluation system plays in bringing new improved varieties to the market. ‘It is with thanks to this work that Irish growers have seen crop yield increases close to 1% per year’ stated Jim.

New varieties are submitted annually to the Department of Agriculture for agronomic evaluation. Having successfully completed this evaluation process varieties then become recommended and available for commercial use.

It is due to this intensive trialling system that varieties fit for purpose make it to the market where yield and disease resistance potential have been identified.

Jim Gibbons highlighted ‘our trialling and evaluation system is among the best in the world and Irish farmers have the advantage of choosing from a list of certified varieties on the Irish Recommended list, that have undergone intensive trialling under our unique Irish conditions’.

Attendees at the Department site in Kildalton viewed the latest crop varieties under evaluation; winter/spring barley, oats and wheat plus forage maize, oilseed rape and beans. It was of particular interest to see new varieties that have recently entered the evaluation process; some of which will make it to full recommendation while others that had looked promising to be eliminated from the trialling system due to non-performance under Irish conditions.

In 2015 there are a total of 171 cereal varieties under evaluation – 52 winter wheat, 9 spring wheat, 26 winter barley, 50 spring barley, 14 winter oat, 18 spring oat and 2 triticale.

The Irish Seed Trade Association represents multipliers, producers and distributors of certified seed in Ireland and promotes the use of certified seed in tillage, forage and grassland crops to ensure the best varieties of seed are made available to Irish farmers.

All set for ISTA Open Day 2015 at Kildalton

Irish Seed Trade Association’s (ISTA) annual Open Day 2015 to visit the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine cereal trials, will take place on Tuesday 7th July 2015 at Kildalton College, Piltown, Co Kilkenny.

Attendees will be able to view the latest trial results from the crop varieties under evaluation; winter/spring barley, oats and wheat plus forage maize, oilseed rape and grass/clover varieties. The day will run from 9.30am to 2.30pm.

This yearly event brings together representatives from every aspect of cereal production including crop consultants, DAFM personnel, Teagasc tillage specialists, seed suppliers, cereal growers, Irish Farmers Association, agro chemical and animal feed suppliers, food and beverage related industries, feed and grain trade, flour millers, malting industry, agri-media, UCD graduates, and trade personnel from agribusiness sectors in Britain and Ireland.

This is a well-attended event each year as ISTA members get the opportunity to view varieties coming up for full recommendation on the Department of Agriculture Recommended List. It also offers the opportunity to view new varieties that have recently entered the evaluation process.

According to Jim Gibbons, ISTA Vice President, ‘viewing the Department evaluation trials is our opportunity as an industry to evaluate potential varieties for the future. The work undertaken by the Department is the basis of ensuring new varieties are fit for purpose under Irish conditions and will stand up to unique disease challenges cereal growers face here’.

The spotlight will be on new spring barley, winter barley and winter wheat varieties.

The Irish Seed Trade Association represents multipliers, producers and distributors of certified seed in Ireland and promotes the use of certified seed in tillage, forage and grassland crops to ensure the best varieties of seed are made available to Irish farmers.

6th July 2015

John Dalton appointed President of Irish Seed Trade Association

John Dalton of Daltons (Chancellors Mills), Kilkenny has been appointed as the new President of the Irish Seed Trade Association following a recent AGM. John will serve a two-year term as ISTA President, and takes over from Tom Bryan of Boortmalt in Athy, Co.Kildare.

Managing Director of John Dalton & Sons Ltd, Chancellors Mills for over 25 years, John is a former president of Irish Grain and Feed Association (IGFA) and a current committee member. John is also a board member of the Cereal Association of Ireland.

John is keen to promote the important role of ISTA for the gain of tillage farmers and growers throughout the country. ‘In representing the commercial organisations within the seed industry, we are ensuring that the best varieties and standards are adhered to for the good of Irish tillage farmers. We strongly promote the use of only Certified Seed varieties, as this ensures Irish growers are using the best possible varieties for commercial gain while maintaining the integrity of our Industry’.

Tom Bryan will serve as outgoing Vice-President, along with the new incoming vice-president Jim Gibbons of Germinal Seeds from Horse & Jockey, Co. Tipperary.

Still opportunity to sow Spring Beans

Irish farmers are being advised that there is still time to sow spring Beans due to favourable weather conditions. Described as a financially viable crop, Beans are an excellent low input break crop.

According to John Dalton Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA) vice President, ‘Beans are the ideal break crop for farmers supplying the Gluten free oat market, as they have a direct impact on improving yield and facilitate less contamination in the following oat crop’. Bean growers can also avail of the €250 per hectare coupled protein aid payment introduced for 2015.

Beans favour medium to heavy soil types attributed to their requirement for moisture, however according to Michael Hennessey, Teagasc Crops Specialist, it must be noted that Bean crops sown after mid-March will push harvest date out and the option must be considered against other potential crops.

As with all legumes Beans require no artificial Nitrogen and will leave good nitrogen reserves in the soil for subsequent crops. Scott Lovell of Dairygold stated ‘2014 was an excellent year for protein crops and bean crops sown in late March achieved very good yields’.

A number of agri merchants are still looking to fill bean contracts with potential bean growers in their area and potential growers are being encouraged to contact their local ISTA merchant.

Full story here.
16 March 2015

Impressive new grain facility unveiled to tillage farmers at Bretts of Callan

A large gathering of the region’s top grain growers were in attendance at the premises of ISTA member, Brett Brothers of Callan, Co Kilkenny on February 25th, where they were given a full overview and tour of the recently expanded grain handling facility. The impressive facility follows a major capital investment programme at Bretts mill and grain handling facility in Callan, which has created a large increase in milling capacity and a highly efficient grain drying, treatment and storage complex, all overseen by Liam Brett, Operations Director.

Over 45,000 tonnes of grain from certified seed enters the mill as raw material and the balance goes to Flahavans in Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford for the manufacture of their porridge oats.

Chief agronomist, James Irish, outlined to farmers the agronomy policy implemented at Bretts that is fundamental to producing top quality grain. James stated ‘We manage and support our farmers in all aspects of growing grain from seed to when the combine enters the field. Our emphasis is on cost control while ensuring not to compromise on quality’. James also introduced a new software programme ready for rollout among Bretts tillage farmers. The Gatekeeper programme allows for full traceability and instant crop recommendations while maintaining historic individual farm records and past recommendations.

Managing Director, Jimmy Brett said, “Our philosophy goes beyond selling to our customers; we bring solutions both in nutrition and agronomy”. Making reference to Oakpark Foods, which is another part of the Brett business and processes pork and bacon products, partly sourced from their own Sunglen piggery, further demonstrates the Brett commitment to a complete ‘farm to fork’ ethos. “Our grain growers and the Brett businesses are an integral part of the food chain and our model is to add value from farmers’ grain to milling and to Oakpark products on the supermarket shelves in Ireland and in our export markets,” he said.

Link to Brett Brothers
Pictured at the tillage open day at Brett Brothers, Callan, Co. KIlkenny are James Irish, Bretts, Dick O'Shea, Teagasc Kilkenny, Patrick Sullivan, Inistioge & Michael Roche, Inistioge. Photo O'Gorman Photography.

11 March 2015

Whiskey and oats driving demand for cereals

The prospects for cereal growers are good, with good yields predicted this year, while Irish whiskey sales are growing worldwide and production of oat-based products increasing, according to the Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA).

Tom Bryan, President of ISTA, said that Irish whiskey sales are increasing worldwide and the expansion of the Jameson distillery in Midleton is good news for Irish growers of malting barley as was  the increasing number of Irish craft  breweries. There are now almost 40 craft brewers in Ireland, he said.

Speaking at the annual ISTA open day, Donal Fitzgerald, ISTA Deputy President said that with both Flahavans and Glanbia increasing their processing facilities for food grade oats, there is good market potential in the US and elsewhere. He also pointed out that Connolly’s Red Mills, a major user of equine oats has become the first in the world to secure a licence to import horse feed into mainland China.

Tom said that he expects good cereal yields this autumn, with an increased area sown to winter barley. This crop has been performing well and has replaced continuous winter wheat on many farms, he said. “Cereal crops established well this year and got off to a good start due to the excellent quality of Irish certified seed assembled last harvest.”

He went on to say that with a record number of dairy cows in the country and milk production due to increase significantly, there will be an increased demand for animal feed and cereals. “In addition progressive milk producers are contracting with tillage farmers to grow forage maize, wholecrop silage, fodder beet etc. This makes more economic sense than paying exorbitant prices for renting grazing land.”

By on June 27, 2014
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