Shortage for sorghum seed
THE 2018-19 grain sorghum plant has the potential to be one of the largest in recent times due to factors including high commodity prices and widespread fallow ground following the dry winter.
Due to rain across Central Queensland, the Darling Downs and northern NSW there has been unprecedented demand for planting seed across the grain sorghum growing region, with many rural resellers buying stock in anticipation of widespread planting.
Major breeder and wholesaler of hybrid grain sorghum seed, Pacific Seeds said that despite having above- average production and supplies many hybrids are now in sold out, with rural retailers now taking delivery of their stock.
Pacific Seeds managing director Barry Croker said growers seeking seed should speak with their rural retailers about seed availability as planting has not yet started in many areas.
“Plantings to date have been limited and many agents have purchased and taken delivery of seed in anticipation of planting rain and farmer orders, so we recommend you contact your rural retailer about their supplies of summer seed,” Mr Croker said.
With the sorghum seed supply expected to be tight, Pacific Seeds summer grain agronomist Trevor Philp warned growers to make sure conditions were right for planting before putting seed in the ground.
“Seed quality is excellent this year and we really want growers to make sure they get the most from the 2018-19 season,” Mr Philp said.
“With a small break in the weather after such a long period of dry, the temptation is always there to get a crop in the ground.
“However, given the expected amount of ground going to sorghum this summer growers need to be sure they do not over-estimate soil moisture and get a reduced crop establishment as there will not be seed available of their hybrid of choice for a replant down the track.
“We’d encourage growers to keep in close contact with their agronomist over the planting period.”
Mr Croker said the volume of demand for seed over early October had been unusual for this time of year.
“The quantity of ordering prior to rain is unprecedented in our experience,” he said.
“Very limited winter sowings and high commodity prices are some of the key drivers for the level of demand.”
As the major supplier of grain sorghum hybrid seed in Australia, Pacific Seeds routinely produces more seed than is required by the market, but this year, despite an increase in production of key hybrids, demand has outstripped supply.
“Over the past five summers we have produced more seed than sales, but this year demand for grain sorghum seed has been huge following such a dry winter,” he said.
The lead time for hybrid seed to be put into bags and ready for farmers to plant can be one to two years even for existing products and using contra season production in the Ord irrigation area of Western Australia.
“The seed production crops for this summer’s grain sorghum hybrids began in October 2017,” Mr Croker said.
“There is a one to two-year lead time to producing hybrid planting seed and despite our best efforts, our supply is based on conditions and forecasts at key decision points.”
MOISTURE WARNING: Pacific Seeds summer grain agronomist Trevor Philp.