The Irish Seed Trade Association (ISTA) has warned that there will be a shortage of high-quality spring cereal seed of up to 40% due to the poor harvest this year.

It has said that it is unlikely winter cereal area will return to 2023 levels and so spring cereal area will increase once more, following a 20,000ha decline in winter barley area last season.

ISTA president, Tim O’Donovan, said: “The amount of native spring cereal seed harvested in 2023 is significantly lower than what we produced in 2022 and it’s easy to see a potential shortfall of spring seed of up to 40%.”

The UK and northern Europe are in similar situations, so availability of seed imports are also low.

“Certainly, some favoured varieties will not be available in the same quantities, so growers may be better off taking every opportunity to drill winter cereals, even if past typical dates,” O’Donovan said.

He added that farmers will have to weigh up the risks and that the wettest March, warmest June and wettest July on record had led to the situation.

ISTA explained that the Irish Seed Assemblers will examine stocks and in partnership with the Department of Agriculture seed certification division will assess how best to plan for the spring, including maintaining standards of imported seed.

ISTA is encouraging farmers to make cropping plans and order seed early.

Some farmers made it out with drills this week, but this was not possible in most cases as land is extremely wet. Many early-sown crops are in good condition, but those planted into October, before heavy rain, are struggling to establish as seed sits in the wet ground.

O’Donovan estimated winter plantings at 60% to 70% of the 2022-23 area, with winter barley planting only at about 20% of last year’s area in parts of Cork and Wexford.