Improving seed quality of Northeast-grown seed: Focus on disease

2013 Annual Report for FNE13-779

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,940.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Ken Greene
Hudson Valley Seed Library

Improving seed quality of Northeast-grown seed: Focus on disease


We trained 12 farmers from 8 different small farms through monthly workshops in how to integrate seed production into their diversified vegetable operations. Alongside this training, we studied the diseases affecting the plants (if any) at all stages. We are now in the process of compiling existing disease reports from the growing season and coordinating having the seeds themselves tested for germination and disease at different labs. When all this data is complied, we will begin evaluating the full lifecycle of each variety to determine overall seed health and how it related to specific Northeast disease factors.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Ken Greene, Hudson Valley Seed Library (Grant / Workshop leader)

Erin Enouen, Trials Manager at HVSL (communication, data entry, workshops)

Seed Library interns (participate in workshops)

Emily Cook, Cornell Cooperative Extension Hudson Valley Agricultural Experiment Station

Stu Dorris, Farmer at HVSL (farmer participant, workshop set up)

Moon on Pond Farm (farmer participant: Granat Chinese Cabbage, Piracicaba Broccoli, Paris Island Cos Lettuce)

Poughkeepsie Farm Project (farmer participant: Paul Robeson Tomato, Pink Ping Pong Tomato)

Lineage Farm (farmer participant: Upstate Oxheart Tomato, Panther Edamame, Prizehead Lettuce)

Bonfire Farm (farmer participant: Upstate Oxheart Tomato)

Thresh and Winnow (farmer participant: Prizehead Lettuce, Tokyo Bekana, Panther Edamame, Flashback Calendula)

Great Song Farm (farmer participant, Flashback Calendula)


We are recently certified organic! We are also expanding into another 1 acre of field. We will be using information from this grant to determine the most important seed crops to grow this season with the highest probability of good seed quality.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

So far results seem to be pointing to environmental factors- especially wet/dry conditions at unpredictable times of year, as the main vectors for disease that impact health of seeds grown in our region. Not all of the farmers produced a successful seed crop. Crop failure factors included deer, late blight as well as time management abilities. Overall, the late start to the season weather wise affected crops early on while the long dry season at the tail end helped mitigate some of those initial issues.

Our participating farmers felt very inspired by the grant and are all continuing to be interested in producing seed. By including so many other farmers in our grant we received a lot of feedback about the kind of assistance farmers in our region need to produce seed. We also discovered new areas where needed resources are completely missing. In particular, planting and pollinating dates specific to our region are needed for all varieties. This would help with both isolation practices on small farms as well as on farm breeding possibilities.


Emily Cook
Organic Production Educator
Cornell Cooperative Extension Hudson Valley
3357 Route 9W
Highland, NY 12528
Office Phone: 8459439810