On 1/6/07 6:33 PM, in article
I think that it is a method for greatly increasing the cost of a seed beyond
what the market would ordinarily bear. Supposedly the pellet contains
fertilizer and other goodies to help the seed start out well. In practice, I
have not gotten better germination rate.
In the old days, you could get maybe a gram of tomato seed in a packet. Now
many seed packets contain about 100mg. Even that was too many seeds. By
pelletizing, you are down to 20 seeds per packet.
The idea of pelletizing may be innovative, but my guess is the main benefit
is a fatter bottom line for the seed companies that push it.
-- Fermez le Bush
I think the main advantage cited for pelleted seed is handling. If the
seeds are small, it's much easier to plant them if they are pelleted.
Which in many cases is still too many. I need 20 tomato plants of a
given variety . . . why?
So don't buy pelleted seeds.
Free markets are an amazing thing. If pelleted seeds were "too
expensive", people wouldn't buy them, and they would cease to be
available. I happen to like pelleted seeds in some cases, so I buy
them. To me the extra cost is worth it.
Another reason for pelleted seeds is that if you're using mechanical
equipment it may require pelleted seeds. If you're a farmer who needs
to plant a few acres of alfalfa, you don't have the luxury of "saving
money" by buying non-pelleted seed because your planter won't work with
On 1/7/07 5:51 AM, in article
7J-dnX8pUr1aZz3YnZ2dnUVZ email@example.com, "Steve Bonine"
That is my intention. It is just difficult to find them. When I do, I get
them in preference to the pelleted ones. For example, hybrid Celebrity
tomato seeds are usually pelleted.
-- Fermez le Bush
Hi there -
Pelleting a seed has nothing to do with trying to increase costs. I
has everything to do with standardizing the size of the seed fo
increased efficiency in planting and handling within seeders. Th
coating also absorbs and splits open more consistently as moisture i
applied, so seedlings emerge more uniformly, producing overall bette
germination results. The process of pelleting seed, i.e. the material
and the labor required to coat the seed does add some small incrementa
variable cost to the seed, but it is not done for the sake of increasin
costs beyond what the market can bear. The seed is not significantl
more expensive compared to is "natural" seed counterpart. In fact,
packet of unpelleted Cherokee Lettuce is $4.95 and its pellete
counterpart is $4.60 a packet, which is obviously not more expensive
This is true for other varieties as well. Now, when the number of seed
increases, the cost does increase a bit (and the cost depends on th
individual variety and its cost structure), but for purely economi
reasons stated above. If the market couldn't bear the cost of the seed
Johnny's wouldn't be selling it. Johnny's would go out of business an
it would make no economical or common sense.
I quote from page 49 of Johnny's 2007 catalog:
"Pelleting improves the shape, size, and uniformity of raw (natural
lettuce seeds [also carrot and some flower seeds] for more accurat
sowing by hand and machine. The pellets are made of inert materials an
clay, which won't harm the seeds or the soil. As the pellets absor
moisture, they split open, allowing immediate access to oxygen fo
fast, uniform seedling emergence."
Pelleting does not guarantee or infer that you'll get bette
germination rates, only that germination will be more uniform an
consistent. You should also be aware that the pelleting proces
decreases the shelf-life of the seed. The seed is perfectly fine for
planting season, but should not be saved or used for second and thir
seasons because germination rates will not be as good (unlike Johnny'
"natural" seed which has excellent germinations rates for 2-3 year
from purchase, and in some varieties longer). When purchasing pellete
seed, Johnny's recommends that you try to purchase only that whic
you'll need to produce the harvest you expect.
I hope this answers your questions. If you have any other terminolog
questions, feel free to call Johnny's toll-free at 1-877-564-6697 an
speak with any of our customer service representatives. Unlike othe
companies, you'll always get a human voice on the phone and all ou
reps are well versed in gardening and growing.
Marketing & PR Manager
Johnny's Selected Seed
I appreciate and agree with your comments, and thanks for providing the
information. I do, however, have a small question:
Alisa Keimel wrote:
How many seeds are in the packet in each case?
Frankly I would much rather work with pelleted lettuce seed than the raw
seed, and I suspect that there are plenty of seed in a packet to take
care of my needs. But comparing prices based on "a packet" really isn't
A seed that that has been coated with a glob of material. The major
advantage is that it allow proper spacing of very small seeds,
especially when using mechanical plenters. Small seed like carrot are
difficult to plant.
I'm really surprised by the snarky comments about seed companies. Are
they referring to companies that sell seeds? In all the years I've
been growing, I've never thought of them as the Evil Empire. Cable
companies, health insurance - yes. But seed companies seem to be more
a labor of love than a big money-maker. And if the smaller folks go
out of business, there will be little variety in what we can plant.
Maybe the person from Johnny's can tell us if there is a monopoly among
seed-producing companies. I've always thought there were a number of
them, but perhaps not.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.