A number of issues are facing New Zealand seed producers over
the next 10 years, delegates to the International Herbage
Seed Group workshop in Methven have heard.
Bede McCloy, of NZ Arable, said high yields of seed crops
needed to be maintained and even improved, so that the return
per hectare to seed growers remained competitive with other
That would require even smarter management techniques and the
adoption of new technologies to keep New Zealand producers
ahead of their competition.
The ''after harvest'' costs, which were paid for by the
grower, appeared to be continually increasing, Mr McCloy
said. Those included seed certification and dressing charges,
which were often a direct result of increases in compliance
He told delegates it would become more difficult to maintain
varietal purity due to a more frequent changing of cultivars
as a result of market requirements.
''The traditional use of livestock to control vegetative
growth in seed crops is decreasing due to the shift away from
suitable livestock types in the production areas and the
requirement for later grazing in the late flowering type of
ryegrass,'' Mr McCloy said.
A major issue would be the loss of certain herbicides, and
with the heavy reliance on glyphosate for grass weed control,
potentially resistant types were just around the corner.
Increases in cultivation and new cultural practices would
need to be developed.
Mr McCloy questioned what techniques were needed to reduce an
average seed loss at harvest of 12%.
Some other limitations had also been identified, such as a
lack of young/new personnel in the industry and how to
maintain profitability, Mr McCloy said.
He told the workshop that New Zealand seed producers were
part of an arable sector which produced gains and seeds on
about 2000 properties of almost 200,000 hectares.
About 500 properties, mainly in Canterbury, grew the majority
of the crops, apart from maize, which was predominantly grown
in the North Island.
Mr McCloy said the New Zealand arable industry had a farm
gate value of approximately $500 million. Seed exports hit a
record $168 million for the 2012 year and were made up of
grass and clover seeds, seed and dry peas, forage brassica
seed, specialist vegetable seed and various oilseeds.
About 50% of the production was grown under certification and
80% of the grasses and clover grown for seed were exported.
- by Maureen Bishop