Aug 22, 2019
Vitalis Organic Seeds: Celebrating 25 years providing the best in genetics for organic growers

{Sponsored} Twenty-five years ago, Vitalis Organic Seeds formed with a vision to provide the best in vegetable and herb genetics for organic growers. This vision has been manifested through global organic seed production and breeding programs dedicated to organic agricultural systems. Vitalis is the leader in certified organic vegetable and herb genetics globally.

EAZYLEAF, the one-cut lettuce with superior loft and texture.
EAZYLEAF, the one-cut lettuce with superior loft and texture.

“Organic growers have different production systems than conventional growers, and require different traits such as disease resistance, nitrogen-use efficiency, and the ability to out-compete weeds and tolerate insects,” said Adrienne Shelton, organic product specialist for the East Coast, U.S.

This means that breeding programs need to focus on traits specific to the organic agriculture system as well as traits consumers want such as excellent flavor and the unique colors and shapes seen in many organic crop varieties. It’s a challenge to hit all of those targets.

In order for Vitalis to get the feedback they need to ensure they are on track with grower and consumer needs, Vitalis holds several field days throughout the year in vegetable producing areas across the U.S. During field days, the breeders and sales team gain valuable feedback from growers about the regional varieties showcased.

Paula Linton, Greenleaf, Jessy Beckett Parr, CCOF Foundation and Shaina Bronstein, Vitalis Sales Representative
Paula Linton, Greenleaf, Jessy Beckett Parr, CCOF Foundation and Shaina Bronstein, Vitalis Sales Representative

During this 25th anniversary year, the field days are amped up to capture the taste buds and imaginations of growers and consumers alike. “We are passionate about the value that organic agriculture brings to our farming systems, and thus we have invested heavily in organic seed production, seed technology, breeding, promotion and policy during the last 25 years,” said Erica Renaud, regional business manager for Vitalis Organic Seeds North America.

Diversity in organic lettuce varieties is primary for Vitalis. As the U.S. is the largest organic production and consumer market, Vitalis offers the largest

Jean Francois Thomin (center), marketing manager Enza Zaden, with Ricardo and Theo Chrisantes, Owners Wholesum
Jean Francois Thomin (center), marketing manager at Enza Zaden, with Ricardo and Theo Chrisantes, owners of Wholesum

selection of certified organic genetics globally with a focus on flavor, diversity of leaf types and colors and resistance to mildew, aphids — primary issues for organic growers.

Another area of focus is complementing heirloom tomato flavor with better field performance. “We are focusing on improving heirloom varieties for disease resistance, plant vigor, yield, and higher fruit quality without sacrificing on flavor, texture or fruit diversity (color, shape),” Renaud said.

Vitalis knows the marketplace due to boots on the ground in the primary organic

New Vitalis Uchiki Kuri Winter Squash Breeding Material
New Vitalis Uchiki Kuri Winter Squash Breeding Material

production and consumer regions and complements their knowledge gathering with active participation in key organic and seed-related boards and associations. “Millennials are reaching an age where they are making food choices not only for themselves, but for their children. It is clear that this group of consumers is really interested in knowing where their food is coming from and purchasing food grown in a more sustainable manner — especially foods with fewer residues,” Shelton said.

As demand increases, Vitalis has witnessed many growers shifting to organic certification. Navigating the regulations around organic production can be challenging, though. There are many regional organizations available to provide resources and assistance to growers making this transition. Perhaps most importantly is making a shift in mindset to what Shelton calls a “holistic production model.” This can include a shift to organic protections such as beneficial insects, use of disease resistant genetics, use of crop rotation and biological fertilizers, and away from conventional practices.

Jeff Ramirez, Antonio Valdez, Daniel Gerardo, Enza Zaden - Vitalis Sales Team Yuma
Jeff Ramirez, Antonio Valdez, Daniel Gerardo, Enza Zaden – Vitalis Sales Team Yuma

Thankfully, programs are available to help growers bridge that gap. And breeders like Vitalis are poised to be part of that change.

For more information about Vitalis Organic Seeds, visit usa.vitalisorganic.com or call 831-751-0937.

© 2019 Vitalis Organic Seeds, the organic division of Enza Zaden.





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