Seeds and varieties are an important economic sector for the “grasslands and forage crops” industry. It is a sector with important historical dimensions, insofar as the International Seed Federation (ISF) was founded around the international market for forage seed.
This sector is also a bearer of innovation. First of all by the genetic developments of the varieties, practised on various species, then by the use of the seeds as an important leverage for development of the crop techniques and diffusion of knowledge around these same techniques.
This section concentrates on the grasses and the legumes with small grains. The Protein legumes (peas, beans and lupins) are excluded from it, although the statistical data relating to the sale of seeds is generally included in the statistics on forage species.
Production of Seeds
Seed production varies considerably among plant species, particular years, and geographic regions. Perennial and Italian ryegrasses are the most produced forage grasses, all species combined, while Lucerne is the main forage legume.
The year 2007 was a bad year, especially because of competition with cereal production for the available surfaces. Denmark produces more seeds for forage grasses and lawns then France or Germany. This is particularly linked to a lower cereal yield in this country.
Seeds Sales in France
Seed sales are highly dependent on the species. The sales of Perennial ryegrass are generally greater and more constant than those of Italian ryegrass, whose use varies according to the needs of farmers and inventory.
By combining the curves of sales and production, it is possible to observe and analyse the self-sufficiency of a country in terms of seed.
European Selection Companies
Before being marketed, a new variety must be registered in the national or European catalogue. The entry in the national catalogue is validated by the CTPS on the basis of a test conducted by or under the supervision of a national organisation (GEVES in France). A variety is in particular evaluated on its sufficient differences compared to the existing varieties (Distinction, Homogeneity, Stability) and its agronomic qualities (productivity, food value, resistance to the diseases). New varieties of fodder grasses should not contain Toxic Endophyte.
Genetic research is one of the means implemented for creating new forage varieties to improve the quantity and/or quality of forage production. New disease-resistant varieties were created (facilitating their quality for pasture), that are more productive or are more digestible.
Methods of Selection
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