Glanbia has temporarily suspended the sale of certain categories of wildflower seeds until it receives confirmation that these seeds are free from blackgrass.

In a statement to the Irish Farmers Journal, the company said: “The branches and Glanbia Connect will not resume the sales of any of this category of product until the Glanbia quality and compliance function have received written confirmation that each product is free from blackgrass.”

The move comes three weeks after the discovery of blackgrass in autumn-sown wildflower seeds in Teagasc Oak Park, Carlow.

The news came the same week Glanbia launched phase two of its biodiversity initiative. It offered customers who bought a half-acre of pollinator mix a free box of wildflower seeds.

The Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA), which represents the seed trade and licensed seed assemblers in Ireland, has called on its members to cease the sale of the contaminated wildflower mixes and inspect the areas sown to date, where any issues are identified.

Calls for new controls

The ISTA has also called for the development of controls for wildflower and other seed mixes. There are no EU directives governing wildflower seed mixes, meaning a full certification process is not currently possible.

It has asked the public and retailers to commit to using or selling seed mixes that are produced in Ireland and free of any invasive weeds.

President of ISTA, Phil Meaney, confirmed that the association is engaging with the Department of Agriculture on the matter.

Not just blackgrass

While blackgrass poses a significant risk to tillage farms, the ISTA says that the grass isn’t the only invasive plant species which can be found in wildflower mixes.

“The growing popularity of wildflower mixes in farming and non-farming settings is exposing the risks of other undesirable plants being introduced and becoming established on a widespread basis,” it said.