There is enough seed in the country to sow an additional 40,000ha of spring cereals this year if required, according to the Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA).

A survey undertaken by the ISTA found that there are 6,500t of certified seed for spring barley, 1,250t of seed for oats, 300t for beans and 400t for spring wheat.

ISTA general manager Brigid Quigley said this was on the back of a bumper seed harvest last year, which delivered the highest level of seed intakes in five years.

Those active in the cereal seed sector maintained that any initiative by the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to increase the national area under tillage will not be limited by seed availability.

It is more likely to be land availability

Land availability and time constraints were likely to be the main constraints.

“If the minister wants more ground under cereals then seed won’t be the obstacle.

“It is more likely to be land availability. Is the ground there on which to plant an additional 40,000ha of crops?” one seed industry official asked.

Industry sources also pointed out that the seed will have to be in the ground in the next three to six weeks, so any initiative will have to be fast-tracked.