Grass Fires in Wales near Snowdon causing havoc with this weeks warm weather, causing fires to spread rapidly on the Wattsville Mountain, including some covering areas larger than 741 acres. On evening of the 22nd March, services reported another three major grass fires – in Swansea, Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff Airport, and Crickhowell, Powys.
Fire engines were sent to a blaze at Caerau, Maesteg, in Bridgend county, where 40 hectares were alight. Three pumps and some four wheel drive vehicles were sent to a 247 acre of land to tackle the grass fires in Wales. North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said it had to deal with about 10 incidents.
A 25 acre fire was being tackled near Caernarfon, Gwynedd, on 23rd March after the alarm was raised at 13:40 pm. A second fire, above Nantlle, also near Caernarfon, has been tackled after firefighters were called at 18:00 on 22nd March.
What Grass Could Be Affected By The Grass Fires In Wales
Annual meadow-grass, Perennial rye-grass, Sedge Warbler in Common Reed, Common reed, Common Cotton-grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Common Spike-rush, Cock’s-foot, Schoenoplectus lacustris, Common club-rush, Quaking-grass, Great fen sedge, Crested Dog’s-tail, Sand Sedge, Soft Brome, Pendulous Sedge, Elymus repens, Couch-grass, Common couch, Greater Pond Sedge, Wallbarley, Hard rush, Wood melick, Common Blue butterfly on Soft Rush, Soft rush, False Oat-grass, Field Wood-rush, Wavy hair grass, Yorkshire-fog, Sweet Vernal-grass, Bulrush, Great reedmace, Marram Grass, True Fox-sedge, Creeping bent, Timothy
To have Seed Certification and be certified, all seed varieties have to be registered. That means it has to be listed on one of the Danish, EU or OECD Plant variety catalogues. However, to be sold in the EU, the variety must be listed on the Danish or EU Catalogues.
Seed only gets a listing on a plant variety catalogue having first undergone comprehensive technical analysis in the laboratory.
Standards must be met for:
Fitness for purpose, or agricultural value (if applicable) based on:- Quality characteristics, response to the environment, resistance to harmful organisms and yield.
The standard of Seed Certification depends on the generation or category of a seed. Firstly, a small portion of breeder material is selected for reproduction. This material is not necessarily produced under official control of a certification authority, although all follow-ing generations must be. Requirements for first generation seed, called pre-basic and basic seed, are higher than for later generations of certified seeds, referred to as C1 and C2. These later generations are the basis on which pure, uniform, certified seeds of the highest quality are produced.
Uniformity of the variety of seed is kept stable by keeping a ‘standard sample’ of every variety. The standard is a living example of how each variety should perform. Comparing later certified samples of seed to the standard sample is known as post control. Samples of certified seed are sown next to the standard sample. By comparing the two throughout the growing process, verification can be provided that the certified samples perform exactly like the standard sample as a guarantee of uniformity.
All fields used for seed breeding have to be inspected by official or authorised field inspectors. As stated earlier, the inspectors apply the most demanding standards at this stage. Rigorous checks are made for:-
Purity of species
Purity of variety
Presence of wild oats and weeds
Proximity to cross pollination
All seed that passes the field inspections is then harvested and cleaned. The seed lot is then sealed and labelled by an authorised seed sampler, who also takes samples for seed quality tests.
All seed testing takes place at ISTA laboratories, where they send their results direct to the regulating authorities. If the sample fails to meet EU standards, the seed lot cannot be certified and the labels will be removed.
Certification Of Seed & Seed Quality Tests
Seed tests in the laboratory aim to provide accurate guidance as opposed to absolute answers or predictions. Viability, germination and vigour tests all produce results that are usually greater than, or at best equal to, how the seed will actually perform in the field – as in the lab, all test parameters are at an optimum.
The test results can however, help to maximise the understanding of the planting value or storage potential of the seed. Calculation of sowing rates can be achieved by having both a germination test and a thousand grain weight test. If sowing at the wrong time of year is required, a vigour test may be useful. If time is of the essence, or heat damage is suspected, the tetrazolium (viability) test is useful in this situation.
Seed Germination Test
This test measures the number of healthy seedlings under optimum laboratory conditions, not just if a root has emerged from the seed. For this reason, a germination test will take at least a week for cereals and up to 4 weeks for grasses. In the field, many factors such as temperature, water availability, oxygen, light, etc can all affect the seeds capability of producing healthy seedlings. For this reason, a germination test is more a measure of potential growing ability in perfect conditions rather than a measure of absolute accuracy of seedling emergence.
A standard lab test is based on 200 seeds. Dormancy breaking measures are applied. Distinctions are made between normally and abnormally germinated seed and also dead seed. Tests can be quite lengthy in some species. Results are reported as a % germination and also a % of dormant seed (where relevant) at a relatively low cost. Sowing rate can be calculated when this test is undertaken along with a 1000 grain weight test.
Diagnostic Germination Test
A more expensive diagnostic test, also based on 200 seeds is available which gives results reported as % germination, % dead seed, % abnormal seedlings and % damaged seed (heat damage, disease, etc). Again, when performed alongside a 1000 grain weight test, sowing rates can be calculated in accordance. A diagnostic test will note quality problems for the sample in detail. 400 seed samples can also be tested, which will improve the accuracy of the test slightly at more cost.
1000 Grain Weight
This is exactly as it sounds. Once the sample has been screened to simulate what the seed lot would be like once cleaned and processed. 1000 seeds are then weighed in grams and this result can be used to accurately calculate sowing rates when used alongside a germination test result.
The formula used is as follows:-
Seed rate (kg/ha) = (target plants/m2 x 1000 grain weight in grams x 100) /(Germination % x Potential Field Establishment %)
The potential field establishment % chosen for the calculation depends on the condition of the seedbed. As a guide, rates of 80% are generally.
Seed Viability (Tetrazolium) Test
If a germination test (which takes a week or longer) is too long and time is of the essence, a viability test represents the best alternative. This test uses a chemical called tetrazolium which determines which tissues are alive inside the seed therefore showing the potential to germinate. Tetrazolium is a colourless chemical that reacts with living cells and stains them red. Living tissue in seed embryos can then be distinguished from non-living tissue. It will not detect seed abnormalities, it only highlights which tissues are alive or viable. Occasionally, a tetrazolium test and a germination test will differ significantly.
This is because any factor that affects the seed as it actually geminates is not detected by tetrazolium tests. For certification of seed, Factors include chemical damage, dormancy and disease. Tetrazolium tests are very good for detecting heat-damaged seeds as these show a unique staining pattern that can be interpreted by a trained analyst to determine germination potential. The deterioration of heat-damaged seed can occur over a period of time. If the seed sample is tested for germination immediately after the point of damage, the seed may not have fully deteriorated and the germination potential may be over-estimated. With a tetrazolium test, it is possible to detect the very earliest signs of heat damage.
Seed Vigour Tests
Considered the closest measure of potential field performance. Seedlings that have been classified as ‘normal’ by a germination test, will in fact differ in their ability to perform well under a wide range of environmental conditions. Vigour testing aims to measure the ability of the seed to perform well under unfavourable conditions. Seed Certification – Vigour testing is used for two main reasons:- To assess seed lots for storage suitability, To assess seed lots for planting value (Eg. To promote synchronous emergence and maximising performance under sub-optimal seedbed conditions.)
Wheat & Barley tend to show good germination, but seedling diseases can affect germination tests, especially in wet years. Mechanical damage can be problematic, especially in dry years.
Large seeds, such as Field Beans, are susceptible to mechanical damage, again, especially in dry years.
Oilseed Rape quality can be problematic for a number of reasons, such as heat damage, mechanical damage, chemical damage and occasionally disease.
All seed is at risk of heat damage, due to excessively hot weather at harvest, or poor artificial drying techniques.
Germination of seed that has been overwintered is likely to deteriorate, especially if storage conditions are less than ideal.
Seed stored in areas of previous chemical activity can have an effect on the germination of the seed that has come into contact with it. Seeds are likely to be alive, but will germinate abnormally and are less likely to produce healthy plants in the field, especially in less than optimum conditions.
Chemical damage can be identified with a germination test, but tetrazolium tests cannot do this and are likely to over-estimate potential field emergence.
If there is one thing that we have learnt from the Coronavirus pandemic is just how much time people spent in their gardens last year with a keen eye for Garden Decorating. With nowhere to go but their gardens, people started to spend more time maintaining and decorating their outdoor living area. Which has been fantastic to see.
As I write this, the UK is currently in our 3rd, and hopefully the last lockdown we thought now would be a great time to give you some tips on how best to decorate your gardens for the coming spring and summer seasons.
Mirror, Mirror, On the Fence – Garden Decorating
Mirrors are an excellent decoration to have in a garden and have the ability to transform the space around you. A well-placed mirror can open your garden up, adding new dimensions and increasing the sense of space around you. This is especially handy if you have a small to medium-sized garden and really want to make it look as if you have that extra bit of space.
However, be careful where you place the mirror. We’d advise you not place the mirror anywhere the mirror will reflect drainpipes or air ducts into your line of sight. This won’t be the nicest thing to see when you’re trying to relax in the garden this coming summer.
We’d also like to advise that if you are lucky enough to live in a hotter part of the world like Spain or Greece we’d advise you not hang a mirror in your garden as this would be a major fire hazard.
Invest In a Greenhouse
Now depending on the size and the space that you have within your garden, investing in a greenhouse would be a great benefit to you and your family. With more and more people becoming aware and wanting to reduce their impact on the environment and reduce their own carbon footprint. A greenhouse is a great place to start.
Perhaps the most important benefit you’ll gain from your investment in a long growing period. Due to greenhouses being a controlled climate you’ll benefit from a prolonged period of growth after the season is up. If you get extra adventurous you could always look to grow fruit and vegetables from further afield. Fancy something more exotic? Due to the humid temperatures of a greenhouse, this is possible, so long as you understand the conditions that your plants need to grow.
Let There be Light
Most people love to sit out in their gardens well into the evenings during the summer season. Yet, even though the night gets lighter ultimately the sun will set leaving your garden in the dark. This can be changed with just a few lights here and there. Now when it comes to lighting you have two options. Solar or wired lighting.
Solar lighting draws its power from the sun and does not use any electricity. Fantastic right? Especially if you’re wanting to reduce your carbon footprint as we discussed earlier! However, there is a downside to solar-powered lighting and that is if you have any lights where the sun doesn’t quite get enough coverage they’ll either not power on due to not getting enough light, or they’ll flash on and off due to low power. Not an ideal solution when you’re trying to enjoy your garden late into the evenings.
Another option to aid in your Garden Decorating would be to have your garden lights wired in, this is perhaps the more ‘messy’ option. Depending on your garden you may have to have to dig part of your lawn to hide these messy wires! We’d always recommend you consult a qualified electrician for any work of this nature. But the results can be fantastic! Not to mention you won’t have to deal with any flickering lights!
Garden Decorating Lawn-Seeds Offer
We hope you enjoyed our winter season gardening tips, if you’re quick you can get 5% off your first order using promotional code FIRSTORDER5% at the checkout. You can then use your savings on other Garden Decorating opportunities 🙂 Time to go seed shopping.
The winter season is a tough time for us passionate gardeners, with very little maintenance needed for our gardens. With frequent frost and potential snow, we have to reside ourselves to being indoors more. Something that’s not so easy given the current nationwide lockdown.
However, if you’re eager to get out into your garden there are things that can be done.
Frozen Lawn & Potential Snow
First things first it’s never a good idea to walk over your lawn if it is frozen with frost. When your lawn is frozen the grass becomes rigid, when walked on the leaf cells will rupture and the blades of grass will be damaged. You will be left with footprints all over your lawn and can take months for this to disappear. Our advice, if your lawn is frozen stay indoors.
Clearing Leaves and Debris
If, however, your lawn is not frozen you can start by clearing away any fallen leaves and debris from your garden. Throughout the Autumn and Winter seasons, plenty of leaves will fall. Using a light rake or a brush simply sweep these to one side. Once all the leaves have been collected deposit them in your garden waste. If leaves are left on your lawn, they will trap moisture within the lawn and could potentially attract diseases and worms.
Mowing the Lawn with the chance of Potential Snow
Realistically chances of mowing your lawn this month are slim. Instead, if you haven’t done so already, we would advise giving you lawn mower a good clean and service. This will help prolong the life of your mower.
We hope you enjoyed our winter season gardening tips, if you’re quick you can get 5% off your first order using promotional code FIRSTORDER5% at the checkout. what are you waiting for? Time to go seed shopping.
Get 5% off your first order, use promotional code FIRSTORDER5% at checkout
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Scottish Highlands delivery – £24
Northern Ireland delivery – £36
Ireland delivery – £48
Scottish Offshore & Channel Islands delivery – £60 Due to high demand orders are currently taking 7-10 day delay, we apologise & appreciate your custom.