Many popular spring seed varieties could be in tight supply for sowing in 2019 because the extreme weather of 2018 has restricted seed crops.

Growers should place orders early to avoid disappointment, according to agronomy firm Hutchinsons and its seeds manager, David Bouch, pointed out: “We’re not necessarily expecting a widespread shortage of all spring seed, but demand is certainly likely to outweigh supply for some of the preferred varieties.”

The situation is 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.

Looking at cereals, Mr Bouch expected that the volume of spring barley seed will also be down 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.”

Some seed crops may also have struggled to meet the grade due to high screenings, he noted and this would be mirrored by a tighter supply of spring oat seed. The availability of spring wheat might be less of a concern, he added, pointing out that the favourable autumn sowing period had allowed almost all planned winter wheat drilling to go ahead.

“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 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.”