Game Cover Seed – Options for 2024

Selecting the right game cover seed for your shoot is vital. The decisions made now can have a sizable impact on the general success of the upcoming season – and with the running costs of shoots still at an all-time high, it’s important to get it right first time.

As ever the first piece of advice when selecting what game cover seed is best suited to you is to think about what the aim is. Regardless of scale, this is essential.

Things to consider should be the area and size of the land you have available and the number of birds you are going to be holding. The type of game being held should be thought about too – whether pheasant or partridge.

Then, take a look at the site itself. What soil type are you working with? Are there other crops currently growing on the land and what are they? Existing crops can give a good indication of what you will be able to grow, and therefore impact your decision on game cover seed.


Popular Options

There are certain game crops that are always popular with Bright Seeds customers. In terms of mixtures – Pheasant & Finch, Grass Buster and Broad Buster were among our most popular game cover seed purchased for last season, and it looks like a similar story the way this year is going.

For game maize, our strong standing, flagship variety – Flightpath – is leading the way once again. Shoots have relied on this variety for over 25 years, and it is always consistent.

We always recommend pursuing the perennial, annual and bi-annual approach, dividing your shoot into a third for each. Not only does this spread the risk if a crop underperforms, it also makes the process of establishment far easier. If one part of the shoot is already established with, say, a two-year crop, then the spend on both game cover seed and drilling/contractors’ cost is reduced. This three-way split also creates a better habitat.

Obviously, trying to block it in with any SFI or stewardship applications is a good idea. However, be sure to remember that not all perennial options are compatible with stewardship.


Planting Your Game Cover Seed

The relentless, wet weather that we have had to deal with has helped no one. It is worth emphasising; the game crops that performed well last season were planted at the right time. This being when seedbeds had warmed up and there was moisture available.

Because of this weather, the workload for many farmers and contractors has been pushed up, so the windows (and availability) for getting crops drilled will be tight. We strongly recommend making use of breaks in the weather wherever possible, so everything isn’t left too late.

Remember to have conservations with contractors and farmers too so they can manage their workload and make the most of timings as it comes.


Common Mistakes When Planting Game Cover Seed

One of the most common mistakes we see made is by growers not identifying their weed burden. It is necessary to check the area and see what you might have. This has a huge impact on the decision of what crops to grow. Knowing the potential weed burden helps tailor selection to potential weed control. Nobody wants to spend money on game cover seed and then see a large patch of weeds.

For example: If you look around the area and it is very grassy, there is a high likeliness of grass weed problems – so there is no point putting a mixture in that can’t be sprayed for grass weeds.

Or, if there is a broad leaf weed problem like Fat Hen, this means selecting something you can spray for broad leaf weeds. This is why our previously mentioned Grass Buster and Broad Buster mixes are so popular.

Another mistake that is commonly made is to underestimate soil compaction issues – especially if growing game maize or sorghum. They don’t like compaction and will struggle.

A final error many growers make is being impatient and not waiting for the right weather window to plant the crops. Getting timings right is essential for a successful crop.


Game Cover Seed You Can Count On  

Despite our portfolio remaining fairly similar to last year, we are always working on various spray safe mixtures and trialling different varieties on our trial site in Wiltshire.

Our mixtures contain the most up to date varieties for the job, and we always trial our game cover seed varieties on our site before they hit the market.


For any further information on our game cover seed and the mixtures that we provide – or for technical advice or help with your sustainable farming incentive options, please get in touch here.