Seed companies play their part

22 June 2022

Glenys Christian

Seed companies are trying to manage their costs to growers in an effort to reduce their spending.

New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) vice-president, Charlotte Connoley, says seed costs are continually increasing due to factors such as testing, logistics and particularly airfreight.

“It’s pretty difficult. All companies are aware of the situation and they’re putting in place processes that can reduce costs where they can,” she says.

Some companies are buying in two years’ supply of some seeds rather than just one, in the hope that will avoid future price increases and reduce the cost at which they can supply seed to growers.

“They are taking on a lot more risk in trying to manage costs,” Charlotte says. “There’s pressure on everyone and seed companies recognise they’ve got to play their part to keep a lid on it.”

When it comes to the global trade of seeds, she says phytosanitary issues are always going to be on the radar because new pests which could pose a threat to New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sectors aren’t suddenly going to go away. But the association, in which seed companies are very engaged, is working positively with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to improve the processes required to keep them at bay.

“It’s really positive because that relationship is key,” she says.

There could be delays with sweetcorn seed arrivals into New Zealand this year due to greater United States verification and testing for high plains wheat mosaic virus. Charlotte is urging growers to get their orders in as soon as possible so seed companies can supply them after meeting biosecurity requirements.

Small seed lots are still quite challenging when it comes to importation processes.

But with solanaceous and cucurbit family seeds, where a huge suite of tests is required before importation into this country, new tests are being looked at to more easily manage the biosecurity risks involved. It is hoped that public consultation on the proposals will be able to begin shortly.

With issues such as these, Charlotte, who has recently moved from South Pacific Seeds (SPS) in Pukekohe to become Kings Seeds’ general manager in Katikati, says more collaboration is a positive trend.

Regular discussions between NZGSTA and Horticulture New Zealand have already led to considered industry responses to government on a number of issues.


First published in the June 2022 issue of NZGrower and The Orchardist.