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Payment rates have been agreed for farm-saved seed and the latest list of eligible varieties. Clarity for farm saved seed declarations

• Timing on declaration important

• Advice on bends and cover crops

• Funding raised creates varieties

Payment rates have been agreed for farm-saved seed and the latest list of eligible varieties.

With 2023 spring declarations under way, the British Society of Plant Breeders said it was also publishing advice on blends, cover crops and what farmers should do in the event of a failed crop.

BSPB chief excecutive Sam Brooke said: “Since the launch of our online returns site in 2021, we have seen an encouraging increase in on-line farm saved seed declarations – [but] there is still some confusion around what to declare.

“We wanted to clarify the requirements – especially the need for all protected varieties to be declared regardless of whether they are part of a blend, cover crop or failed crop.”

It is a requirement for all farm saved seed to be produced and sown on the same holding. This prohibits the sharing or sale of seed between growers.

What to delare

The declaration of any protected variety should be made when the seed is sown.

Ms Brooke said the BSPB was keen to remind growers that yield – and whether the variety is part of a blend or cover crop – does not affect the need to make a declaration.

“Farm saved seed declarations apply to cover crops, volunteer crops, companion crops, whole crops and bi-crops, regardless of yield,” explained Ms Brooke.

“In the case of a failed crop, such as oilseed rape, the seed declaration is still required because payment is due on sowing not harvest. It is illegal to sell, buy, barter or share farm saved seed.”

Where a blend or cover crop that includes a protected variety is sown, the grower must declare the ratio of seed in the blend. This percentage can be used in conjunction with the seeding rate to calculate the payment needed for using the blend.

Hybrid varieties

Growers are also advised not to save seed from hybrid varieties as this will lead to variable offspring, reduced yields, loss of agronomic characters and is against the law.

“It is important that growers remember that all blends, cover and volunteer crops could potentially have a variety that requires them to make a declaration. Saving seed from hybrid varieties is not advised and must be avoided to protect future yields.

“If there is any uncertainty the BSPB team is on hand to help and offer guidance on how to calculate and declare all varieties of farm saved seed.”

The BSPB says funds raised through farm saved seed declarations help breeders invest in improved varieties better suited to their growing conditions. “By completing your declaration, you are helping plant breeders help you,” it says.

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