Organic Seed Production Webinar Series 2016

A six-webinar series on organic seed production provides training for seed growers and seed production interns. This series, offered by Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA), covers a range of topics, from planting to harvest to the economics of seed production. The series was delivered as part of a seed internship program offered by OSA and MESA with support from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The recordings are appropriate for farmers, interns, students, and other agricultural professionals. Watch the recordings and find additional resources from these presentations below.

New: View the webinars in Spanish here!  Find out about the MESA 2017 Seed Internship here. View the 2017 webinar series (which covers the same topics) here.

1. June 21st: Introduction to the Organic Seed Webinar Series.

  • Which crops should I grow?
  • Field planning
  • Recordkeeping
  • Speakers: Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance; Organic Seed Grower TBD
  • Slide handout

2. July 19th: Trials and Selection

Conducting on-farm variety trials is a valuable investment of time and resources to ensure you are planting the best crop, variety and stock seed source for production of your seed crop. Field selection or roguing of a seed crop throughout the production cycle can further refine and improve the quality and performance of a variety or population. This webinar will cover the basics of conducting on-farm variety trials including sourcing germplasm, field plot design, trial evaluation, and making sense of the data. Presenters will also cover basics of field selection or roguing to improve performance of open pollinated seed crops.

Slide handout

3. August 16th: Diseases and Pests

Management of disease and pests in seed crops can be even more critical than in food production. Seed crops may encounter disease and pests unique to the plant reproductive phase and avoidance of certain seed borne diseases is critical for seed quality. Seed crops are a long season crop, often growing over twice as long and twice the size of a food crop, requiring additional management practices to reduce pests and diseases. This webinar will cover basic field practices for avoiding diseases and pests in seed production and post harvest. Presenters will also provide guidance on prevention, testing and treatment for seed borne diseases in organic seed production.

Slide handout

4. September 20th: Seed Quality, Harvesting Techniques and Equipment

Deciding when and how to harvest seed can be one of the most tenuous steps that will ultimately impact the yield and quality of your seed crop. This webinar will cover basic principles for determining the optimum timing of harvest and guidance on how to harvest either by hand or with equipment. Presenters will also cover tips and tools for preliminary threshing and drying post harvest and addressing inclement weather during the harvest process.

Slide handout

5. October 18th: Cleaning and Recordkeeping

Cleaning seed can be either gratifying or frustrating depending on your knowledge, equipment, and space for handling seed. This workshop will cover the basics of cleaning wet and dry seed by hand or with small to large-scale equipment. Farmer participants will share their seed cleaning tricks, tools and facilities and engage in trouble shooting questions with participants. Tips and resources for record keeping will help ensure seed lots are in order at the end of the season and you can recall cleaning methods in future years. Speakers: Rowen White, Sierra Seed Coop; Laurie McKenzie, Organic Seed Alliance; Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance.

Slide handout

6. November 15th: Seed Contracting, Economics and Policy

Good business relations and management skills are critical to the success of all seed operations whether selling direct market or wholesale. Seed for wholesale is normally grown under contract with a retail seed company that will then pack and sell seeds to farmers and gardeners. Success in wholesale contracts requires assessing the costs of production and rate of return as well as building a good relationship with the contracting seed company. Join this webinar to hear from seed company representatives and a seed grower about when and how to plan for contract production and how to assess profitability. Presenters will also share perspectives on the details to consider in a contract including terms for pricing, over-production, field roguing, and seed cleaning.

: Melanie Hernandez, High Mowing Organic Seeds; Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; Daniel Brisebois, Tourne-Sol Seed Cooperative; Micaela Colley and Steve Peters, Organic Seed Alliance

A series of recorded webinars on the economics of seed production from the 2016 Organic Seed Growers Conference are available on eOrganic. These webinars present advice and tools on assessing the economics of seed production from 3 different seed producing operations. We recommend watching these videos in advance of the Seed Contracting and Economics webinar to provide background on assessing pricing in wholesale contracts.

Additional Resources from the Organic Seed Alliance


Published June 1, 2016

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.