YUMA, Ariz. - When you look at the produce on the shelves at your local grocery store, what do you see?
Probably a fully grown fruit or vegetable. But where do those fully grown foods start? Produce starts with a tiny seed.
In today’s Home Grown, we will learn about the power of those seeds.
All farmers need seeds to start their crop, and for those, they may often turn to Keithly Williams Seed.
About 80 percent of Keithly Williams is a sales company, providing high-end vegetable seed for companies all over the world.
They also have a nursery division, growing vegetable transplants for growers and a fabrication division that they use to modify and build planters, sprayers and other farm equipment.
When it comes to growing, Yuma is seasonal.
For example, if you drive around and see lettuce or broccoli fields in the winter, there are other important crops in their midst.
“Mixed in those fields during the winter are actually production fields that are being produced for seed only. So there are actually fields of broccoli and cauliflower and things like that are being grown exclusively for seed and that seed will be used all over the world,” said Patrick Cooley, general manager of Keithly Williams Seed.
An important thing to remember is that seeds do have a shelf life, and they are all different.
“There’s a bunch of different factors that go into determining the lifespan of a seed,” said Cooley.
Farmers have been testing techniques like freezing seed which they believe could help them last for thousands of years.
“These genetics that we have are very important. They are always developing, but in order to get new genetics, you have to have the old genetics. So not only producing seed is important for new genetics, but retaining the value and the quality of the older genetics is just as important for the future,” said Cooley.
Unlike the perishability of fresh produce, seed, if well taken care of, can last for decades.
On the other hand, similarly to fresh produce, farmers often use safe herbicides to keep those seeds taken care of.
“We also have different applications after the seed is harvested such as a fungicide. It’s actually put on the seed so that it will germinate better because there are pathogens in the soil that will inhibit germination, and we want to see to reach its maximum potential,” said Cooley.
To Cooley, seeds are the gateway to almost everything we consume.
“A seed, no matter how big or small, is blueprinted for what it’s going to be, and all it needs is somebody to start it. With water and nutrition or fertilizer to develop what the seed is going to be. Seventy percent or more of the food we consume comes directly from some sort of seed. When you look at flour and wheat, you look at beans, you look at soybeans, you look at corn, 70% of the food that we consume comes from those products,” said Cooley.
For Keithly Williams, continuing a reputation of safe and quality seed is their goal.
“The importance of the seed companies maintaining and providing a secure and safe bank of seeds and a continuous supply of good seed for the consumers is really important,” said Cooley.
If you are interested in buying seeds, you can visit their website.