Seed World

From Our Desk: Vegetable and Flower Seed Vital to Food and Well-being

It’s been a whirlwind since I began as Seed World U.S. editor just three months ago. The one thing that stands out the most to me is the word “relationships.” I’ve spent the majority of my short tenure here orienting myself to Seed World Group, networking, traveling to some pretty amazing events like ASTA Field Crop Seed Conference, the Independent Professional Seed Association Conference and now the ASTA Vegetable and Flower Conference. Not gonna lie; I’ve loved the travel and networking and now I’m ready to keep my feet planted firmly here in Kentucky for a few months! 

I’ve had dozens of virtual and in-person meetings with so many of you. The thing that strikes me the most is your incredible accessibility and your genuine love of our industry and agriculture. I am looking forward to following up with you and getting your feedback, story ideas and generally getting to know you better.

I want to especially compliment David Armstrong, on our cover, for making time to talk to me during a very busy season of life. David is doing some fantastic work at Sakata. We talked about labor challenges, the U.S. Farm Bill extension, how new breeding technologies foster growth and his vision for ASTA.

We’re focusing much of this month’s content on the vegetable and flower sector of the seed industry. This part of the industry is vibrant and thriving, yet even I have taken it for granted in the past. It’s easy to marvel at a beautifully laid-out meal or bask in the serenity of a blooming garden without giving a second thought to the origin of these pleasures. Both begin with a tiny, unassuming entity – a seed.  

At the core of the vegetable seed industry is an undeniable fact: it feeds us. From humble home gardens to vast commercial farms, seeds are the foundation of the food on our plates. This industry doesn’t just provide sustenance; it’s the backbone of a global network that supports millions of jobs, from agricultural workers and researchers to transportation and retail. The economic impact is colossal, yet it’s sometimes understated in discussions of global trade and industry.

Beyond economics, there’s the essential aspect of nutrition and health. Seeds are the starting point of a dietary chain that leads to a healthier population. With increasing focus on plant-based diets, the role of the vegetable seed industry in supporting this shift becomes even more pivotal. Its responsibility extends to ensuring biodiversity, providing a range of nutritional options, and making sure that these options are accessible to as many people as possible.

The flower seed industry is behind the beauty and environmental health of our environment. While flowers are often perceived as merely ornamental, they play an important role in our ecosystems. They support pollinators, maintain biodiversity and aid in soil conservation. Also, the psychological benefits of flowers are well-documented. In urban environments, with limited green spaces, the presence of flowers can improve mental well-being, reduce stress and promote a sense of community. The flower seed industry is instrumental in creating these places of tranquility and beauty in increasingly concrete-dominated landscapes.

Some of the topics I’m most enthusiastic about in this issue include university research. We talked to a University of Kentucky professor about a mystery in Arabidopsis plant sperm cells and also detailed a multi-institutional study about spinach disease resistance at the molecular level. Could Lupin be the next powerhouse protein? Can plant breeders bring amp-up produce flavor? All of this and more is covered in the February edition of Seed World U.S.

I hope you enjoy reading about 2023’s Top Innovations. We received many wonderful entries, and it was very challenging for our team to narrow the field from so many that have promise to enrich and better the seed industry. 

As always, please communicate your feedback, story ideas and industry happenings. Until next time…

It’s an honor to partner with you,