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Pre-book seed

In the middle of a cold Prairie winter, leaving your worries behind with a winter vacation sounds like a good idea. One worry some farmers hitting the beach this winter will be leaving behind is what to plant next spring, as they have pre-purchased their seed before catching their flight.

“Book early,” says Bret Gaetz, general manager of Hetland Seeds at Naicam, Saskatchewan, “and secure seed for quality control.”

Quality of certified seed refers to genetic identity of the seed, and a system that ensures the genetic identity can be traced back to the original breeder. Traceability guarantees that the farmer will get the variety, and traits, that was promised. Physical quality standards are regulated and inspected by government, and must be met before seed can be certified. Physical quality standards include: high germination, high vigour, disease testing, 1,000-kernel weight seed count, a minimum of other crop and weed seeds, and purity of clean seed relative to chaff and dirt.

Some farmers point out the high cost of using certified seed compared to bin-run seed. Greg Gerry of Precision Ag Services, near Griffin, Sask., has an alternate way of looking at it. “Farmers need to know the cost of seed in the bin — bin-run seed is not free. For example; $7.50 per bushel wheat plus $0.50 cleaning, plus $0.20 handling cost, plus $0.20 time costs equals $8.40 per bushel, and you still have bin-run wheat.”

Seed shortages can potentially be avoided by pre-purchasing seed for spring planting. Shortages in certified seed supply can occur for many reasons such as weather conditions, or disease pressures. Gaetz noted that there may be shortages of cereals in northeast Saskatchewan due to fusarium. In spite of this, “Compared to last year,” says Gaetz, “pre-sale seed sales are behind, because of uncertainties in price with out the wheat board.”

In the southeast, Gerry’s experience is different, “We are trading above last year in pre-seeding sales,” says Gerry, “guys are doing a little more planning. The changing wheat market is determining how people buy wheat. It will continue to change.” Gerry notes, that when it comes to pre-sale, he pre-sells about 70 per cent of his canola, and sells about 30 per cent in season, but his cereal sales are about 50 per cent pre-sale, and 50 per cent in season.

Whether catching a flight to a warmer, or staying in the Prairies to face the snow and cold, pre-buying this spring’s seed supply will be one less worry come seeding time. †

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