What’s Hot in the Garden?

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For growers large and small, a wide array of vegetable seeds was popular last year, with even more diversity slated for 2017.

It’s hard to imagine with the frigid temperatures that have hit North America in December and January that it won’t be long until the growing season is upon us.

This past year, a number of vegetable seed varieties proved to be especially popular. HM.CLAUSE reports its 10 best sellers in 2016 were Caprice (bean), Fiji (melon), Gladiator (pumpkin), HM 3887 (processing tomato), Absolute (cauliflower), Summer Dew (melon), Owatonna (sweet corn), Crunchy Red (watermelon), HM 1823 (fresh market tomato), and Vanguard (blocky pepper).

“This shows how diversified our product line is,” explains Javier Martinez, HM.CLAUSE vice president of sales for North America and Australia. “Every year we have new introductions, and this will be the case in 2017. We will be launching new beans (Colter, Aldrin), sweet corn (Kate, Elle, Natalie), melon (Tonga), pumpkin (Kratos, Zeus), processing tomatoes (HM 4885 and HM 5900), cauliflower (Aquarius), and peppers (Raven, Tracer and Prowler).”

With a culturally diverse and collaborative team, working in more than 30 countries, HM.CLAUSE services growers all over the world. Martinez stresses that understanding what growers seek is vitally important to the company.

“We cultivate and maintain close relationships with our grower customers to keep that feedback loop open,” he says. “Our grower customers are always looking for higher yields, and that won’t change. They also seek the visual traits that consumers look for, such as color and uniformity.

“Improvements we offer in terms of disease resistance help increase their returns, while also lowering the amount of chemical inputs needed and improving the quality of the vegetables on the market for consumers.”

For Seminis, “2016 was particularly successful for seedless watermelons under our SummerSlice line, which includes varieties such as Joyride, Roadtrip and pollinator Wingman,” says Monsanto’s Harry Beukelman, product management lead, North America. “In our blocky bell peppers, we have seen an enormous interest in our X10R varieties, which have resistance to all 10 races of bacterial leaf spot, including Green Machine and Autry — both of which also feature intermediate resistance to the tomato spotted wilt virus.

“Customers have also expressed excellent feedback about our growing onion pipeline, especially with releases like Red Nugent (red long day) and Pocono (yellow storage onion).”

Looking for Natural Solutions

As for a specific niche that Seminis is filling for its customers, Beukelman says the company is continuously looking for solutions for growers beyond seeds. For instance, one area its research and development team is working on is microbiological solutions.

“Certain naturally occurring microbes help with plant defense and create stronger root systems,” he explains. “We look to bring these types of broad spectrum solutions to our growers, and look to not just fill the needs of today, but also to what innovations will be needed in the future.”

Realizing that the relationship between growers and dealers has evolved into something far beyond the transactional practice of selling and purchasing seeds, Beukelman explains that customers are looking for technical support for growing and maximizing the performance of varieties.

“The big steps we’ve taken as a vegetable business are dependent on the right tools,” he says. “We have a great research and development department, which is constantly innovating for better varieties, and our pipeline is excellent because of that.”

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