Interview with AGRAVIS experts: Seed industry faces challenges
The field size for summer cereals in Germany was, in total, reduced slightly once again in the 2015 cultivation year. Spring wheat fell by 4.5 percent, summer triticale by 13.6 percent, and spring barley by 4.0 percent. This was offset by a small area increase in oats by 5.3 percent resulting in a total fall of 2.4 percent on a total area of approximately 15,150 hectares. Despite a slightly reduced yield in 2015 the beginning of the 2016 spring season appears to indicate adequate supply for Germany, which is also due to a strong recognition rate. Marc Möller, from AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG, explains the current state of the seeds industry in an interview.
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Mr Möller, what effects have temperature and precipitation had on the areas?
Möller: Up until December of the previous year we had weather which promoted growth – we even had double-digit temperatures at Christmas – so that the subsequent frosts in January 2015 caused greater problems at the end of winter, predominantly in north-eastern Germany. From February the weather was more open, along with relatively high precipitation levels, meaning that cultivating areas or other agricultural measures were either barely possible or utterly impossible. Due to precisely these reasons, the marketing season for summer cereals is difficult. Increasingly, only small quantities are being ordered for immediate delivery, which means considerable logistical complexity.
How is the supply situation in individual cases?
Möller: With spring rye the supply situation is very difficult. With regard to all other types, depending on special desired varieties, there are still sufficient goods available. The types Quench, Avalon, and Ventina are recommended for growing brewing barley, and in the field seeds sector wild meadow and mixed blooms are increasingly requested for the flower strip programmes. Due to the different compositions, individual mixtures can be delayed; at the current time these only appear to be mixtures containing Egyptian or Persian clover. Both types were heavily consumed during the previous year to the extent that the warehouses were cleared and that new harvests had to be accessed. Prices appear to have stabilised, looking at earlier dates trading has been at similar prices compared to the previous harvest.
What should farmers take into account?
Möller: With grass mixture recipes the current market situation means that there are differing quality levels; in such cases it is important just as in previous years to analyse the recipe. Quality blends in Lower Saxony are designated with the red or magenta label. Due to cold, wet weather it is not yet possible to drive on many areas, which presumably means that requirements will rise later on. In general, the supply for flower strips, mixtures for wild meadows, and mixtures for grassland is secure. Shortages may occur at the current moment in time with quality products that are somewhat restricted regarding increasing cultivation.