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Seedcare Institute interviews - Jens Luckhard

Jens Luckhard

How would you explain the season status of Cereal in Central Europe?

Dryness and heat make 2018 an exceptional year in many parts of Central Europe. So cereal harvest started around three weeks earlier than usual. Often, yields are below expectations, and farmers sometimes suffer massive losses. Hybrid barley, an emerging crop, on the other hand, is better able to cope with such extreme conditions thanks to the larger root system and better ability to regenerate, as the first results of the official land plant trials show. Hybrids occupy the first places in many of billed trials.

What makes treating cereals complicated? / What are the stages of Cereal treatment?

This season seeds for treating are very dry in comparison to previous years. The raw material often is more dusty and in-homogeneous. Of course, this affords higher input in cleaning and sorting to reach the appropriate quality before treating the seeds. It’s crucial to do so to get highest treatment quality as well as low dust-off results for the treated seeds. Winter barley, winter rye, triticale and winter wheat are the cereal crops to be treated for autumn. For each of the crops a specific approach is necessary. Most of the winter barley seems to be treated already and the seed processors switch to rye and winter wheat. Treating season started early July and will probably last until beginning of October.

What can you say about the evolution of automatization? (for the seed processors)

The current treatment process is highly industrialized, conducted by specialist professionals and with safety and environmental issues carefully managed throughout. Professional facilities tend to be certified or apply for certification. Sites are designed to ensure safe operating conditions and special equipment protects workers from accidental exposure to the chemicals. By using treated seed, farmers no longer have to handle or mix the actual chemical substances. This practically eliminates any risks of unwanted exposure to operators, end users and the environment.

What challenges do your clients have, and how do you tackle them?

One of the largest challenges is to support our industrial customers to keep their high level of quality. I already have mentioned that environmental conditions in this season led to challenging raw material in seeds. So our technical experts for seed treatment work very close with our customers to adapt processes and recipes for seed treatment to manage these challenges. Processes for seed treatment have to be re-standardized because of the variation in seeds to provide highest level of quality cereal seeds. Processors and their customers request effectively treated cereal seeds with best agronomic performance. 

What are the diseases and insects farmers have to deal with?

The main diseases are fungus diseases. Microdocium nivale, Fusarium spp., Tilletia caries and –controversa, Ustilago nuda and –tritici, Rhizoctona spp. and Typhula spp. So broad efficient seedcare products show clear advantages and benefits. To provide a good start for the crop, micronutrients are more and more mixed and treated together with the seedcare products.

What are the main highlights of this summer treating season?

It is very impressive to observe that customers which care about good quality of seeds and monitor their process in the end have excellent products. We work together with many of our customers since several years and accompany and support them to improve seed treatment quality. We help them also to reach the European Seed Treatment Assurance Scheme ESTA.  It is clear and can be deducted from thousands of quality analysis and it is also confirmed in this season that investments in quality management systems pay out.

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