Farm Calls: Vegetable "Seed Saving" for Small Farms

This week a training coordinator from the Beginning Farmer Incubator asks,

“Does Rutgers Cooperative Extension have “seed saving” information or recommendations that you can share?”

Seed production involves choosing the right varieties for seed saving as well as possessing detailed information in harvesting, processing, and storage. These are not skills you can learn from a “fact sheet.” There’s a lot that can go wrong, resulting in wasted time and money. I recommend a comprehensive resource guide geared for farmers, gardeners, and agricultural professionals:
The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer’s Guide to Vegetable Seed Production
(J. Navazio, 2012)
Funding support was provided by Northeast SARE.

This 400-page hardcover grower’s guide offers detailed, practical information for small to medium-sized farmers on the techniques of producing appreciable quantities of vegetable seed using sustainable and organic production farming techniques. It’s a useful resource for both the non-organic as well as organic growers. It has over 35 crop specific chapters on growing, required isolation or bagging, harvest timing, and extraction methods. It instructs on how to avoid seed-borne diseases. It deals with minimum plant population sizes to maintain genetic integrity.

Author John Navazio has been affiliated with the Organic Seed Alliance and Washington State Extension. Citations include Vince Rubatzky (UC Davis retired) who received his Ph.D at Rutgers; Ed Ryder, the productive USDA lettuce breeder in Salinas; and Harry Paris, Israel’s well-regarded cucurbit breeder who got his Ph.D. at Rutgers under Professor Bernie Pollack, of Ramapo tomato fame.

If you are serious about producing your own seed or if you work with growers interested in learning the skills involved, pick up a copy.

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