Which seed variety should you choose?
Seeds are the starting point for your crop whether that is a grazing ley, fodder, a polytunnel full of vegetables or a field of wheat. The development of agricultural plant varieties has become a specialist area in almost every crop species we use. So how best to choose which seed variety to use
Which variety should I choose?
Your own experience will be a strong influence on variety choice, along with recommendations from professionals and peers. Apart from the requirement to use organic seeds wherever possible, there are good reasons for you to support those developing and producing crop varieties for organic production.
What are the differences between organic and non-organic varieties?
There is more money available to develop the market for varieties destined for non-organic production – in particular to carry out trials yielding independent data and for marketing campaigns. New varieties are pushed to be the best new choice.
In general the majority of varieties developed for use in non-organic farming systems are geared towards high-input production. Successful organic production needs very different characteristics (plant genotypes) including strong disease resistance and an ability to forage for nutrients in the soil – all without reliance on synthetic chemical inputs. Remember that the use of chemically-treated seed is not allowed on organic farms.
A lot of work goes into producing robust organic varieties – plant breeding, trialling and multiplying seed up to commercial quantities – but this is very expensive. Considering the relative lack of financial support for those working to develop new varieties for organic use, it is crucial that the organic industry supports this work and helps enable it to continue.
Where can I source organic seed?
Organic crop varieties are listed on the website www.organicxseeds.co.uk although you may also find organic varieties from other sources. More varieties are becoming available as organic seed and we restrict derogations for non-organic seed to cases where there is no agronomically viable organic alternative. Do consider the importance of the work your custom will be supporting and help reinforce a cornerstone of organic production.