Neonic oilseed confusion

Defra’s decision to allow neonicotinoid seed dressings on oilseed rape this autumn is welcome in principle. But the restriction to just 5% of the national crop, and only in the worst affected areas, is creating a difficult situation for the seed industry.

The Chemicals Regulation Directorate is permitting the use of the neonicotinoid seed dressings Cruiser and Modesto on 30,000ha, but restricted to farms in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambs, Herts and Suffolk, and where agronomists advise the cabbage stem flea beetle problem is worst. Even so, this is only one third of the usual crop area in these four counties.

Merchants say they are being inundated with calls from growers trying to secure neonicotinoid dressed seed, but have little idea of which seed processors will be allocated the concession or which varieties will be treated. Then there is the problem of allocating treated seed among customers in the four counties. It is difficult for trade associations to advise, as these are largely commercial issues.

The NFU, which secured the concession, has a Q&A webpage on the issue -  - which is kept updated.