As farmers prepare for the winter cereal planting season, they should keep a few things in mind.

The first is that if there is a particular variety that you wish to plant, then you should get your order in early, particularly if it is a variety which is low in availability.

Spreading risk and workload by choosing a few different varieties on a large acreage is important.

It might be a good idea to plant barley yellow dwarf virus-tolerant varieties or varieties with a good resistance rating for septoria in winter wheat in fields which will be planted early.

Choosing varieties with different maturity ratings is also important, so that all of the varieties are not ready to be harvested at the same time.

Recommended lists

The recommended lists from the Department of Agriculture will be out in the next week or so.

It is important to choose varieties from these lists, as they have gone through a rigorous testing period and don’t make it on to the list if they don’t meet yield, disease resistance, straw strength and quality standards.

Remember, varieties imported from the UK are often not included in the Irish recommended lists and have not been tested for Irish growing conditions.

Imported varieties also carry a risk of importing grass weeds on to your farm, as the UK has higher tolerances of grass weeds in the seed.

Certified seed

Using Irish certified seed will give you confidence, as it has a guaranteed minimum germination of 85%.

It is free of weed seeds, the noxious weed wild oats and the Irish seed trade comply with a voluntary standard, which means that seed is free of the invasive weed black grass and all the other serious problem grass weeds like bromes and canary grass.

Delayed planting

Remember, delaying planting can significantly reduce the risk of some grass weeds and septoria pressure. It is a key tool in integrated pest management, but it is also a fine balancing act, as farmers must also plant when ground conditions allow.