–Janika Eckert, Plant Breeder
Madison, Wisconsin: August 27, 2016 — Johnny's Plant Breeder Janika Eckert was awarded the All-America Selections (AAS) Breeder's Cup at the annual summit held in Madison. Eckert has produced four AAS-winning varieties: 'Diva' spineless sweet cucumber, in 2002; 'Carmen,' an early sweet red Italian pepper, in 2006; 'Escamillo,' an early sweet golden Italian pepper, in 2016; and 'Cornito Giallo,' a half-size sweet golden Italian pepper, in 2016.
Curious as to why so many award-winning vegetable varieties come from the fields of this small, but thriving seed company in Central, Maine, we were recently given the rare chance to peel the onion, so to speak, on breeding at Johnny's in an interview with Eckert. Read more »
–Lindsay Wyatt, Johnny's Plant Breeder
Waterville, Maine: August 5–8, 2016 — Johnny's Selected Seeds greeted the fifth annual Student Organic Seed Symposium (SOSS) with a full-day tour of its research farm and facilities in Albion and Winslow. From their base at Colby College, a group of 50 students and global leaders in organic plant breeding systems attended an intensive, four-day series of lectures, panel discussions, and field trips crisscrossing rural Central and Down East Maine.
"Johnny's was happy to help host the SOSS conference in Maine this August," said company Chairman and Founder, Rob Johnston, Jr. "SOSS, the Student Organic Seed Symposium, is a great example of a good idea: a conference of graduate students in organic plant breeding, their professors, and industry people like me. And, it is remarkably put together each year by the students themselves. The conferees, especially the students, are a vital part of building a healthier food system…." Read more »
with AAS-Winning Qualities
—Janika Eckert, Award-winning Plant Breeder
Albion, Maine: November 2015 — Johnny's has done it again — receiving two All-American Selections National Awards in recognition of its newest Corno di Toro pepper varieties. In addition to being chosen for their outstanding flavor and rich coloration, Johnny's AAS-winning peppers are easy to grow under a wide range of conditions, mature early, and express a compact, upright growth habit, or "plant architecture" that keeps the fruits healthy and up off the ground.
Corno di Toro, or "bulls-horn" peppers, have become an important class for market growers, in large part thanks to Carmen. According to Emily Haga, plant breeder for Johnny's, "Carmen is a sweet, red Italian frying pepper bred by Johnny's that has an almost cult-like following among pepper growers and lovers. Everywhere I go, people grow this 2006 AAS award-winner and love its dependability and flavor. This year, Johnny's Selected Seeds is expanding its selection in this important category, with AAS Winners Escamillo and Cornito Giallo…." Read more »
Albion, Maine: October 2015 — Eero Ruuttila, pioneering sustainable agriculturist, has recently joined Johnny's Selected Seeds in the role of Research Station Manager. Ruuttila comes to Johnny's as a 35-year champion of organic farming, accomplished both as practitioner and advocate. With his in-depth understanding of organic farming practices, plant nutrition requirements, water and soil management, pest and disease control, and farm labor management, Ruuttila is a natural fit for the robust seed company with a 40+-year legacy at the vanguard of sustainable agriculture. In coming to Johnny's, he states, "I hope to refine Johnny's tradition of building soil quality to support the long-term health of its fields, advancing the mission to produce healthy seed that ultimately nourishes the families, friends, and communities that Johnny's serves…."
In recognition of Ruuttila's contributions to the advancement of sustainable agriculture, he has received a multiplicity of awards, including the 1998 New Hampshire Farm of Distinction; 1999 Hillsboro County Soil & Conservation District Cooperator of the Year; 2002 Saveur 100 Farm that Nourishes the Community; and the 2004 Andrew L. Felker Award for distinguished achievement in the economic advancement of agriculture in New Hampshire…. Read more »
— Pete Zuck, Tomato Product Manager
Albion, Maine: July 2015 — Johnny's Selected Seeds recently hosted the 2015 Tomato Growers' Roundtable, where a consortium of growers and scientists met to discuss the challenges and opportunities of growing tomato in the New England region. Organized by Maine's primary organic certifying agent, the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (MOFGA), the roundtable serves as a conduit for small- to medium-scale commercial growers to listen and collaborate on topics ranging from thinning and pruning and planting density to disease and fertility.
The meeting was moderated by MOFGA's organic crop specialist, Eric Sideman, PhD, and Becky Sideman, PhD, Extension Professor and Sustainable Horticultural Production Specialist at the University of New Hampshire. Trials performed at Johnny's research farm in Albion, Maine, as well as those conducted across New England and the rest of the country, provide variety and cultural information to growers of all sizes. Several members of Johnny's research staff were present to listen and contribute to the discussion…. Read more »
Albion, Maine: June 2015 — Increasing demand for locally grown produce on a national scale has spurred growth for Johnny's Selected Seeds. As part of our ongoing effort to provide superior customer service, we are happy to announce that Brian Boyce joins Johnny's Selected Seeds this month as a Territory Sales Representative. Brian's territory includes Northern California and Southern Oregon. He will provide year-round local service and support, as well as region-specific growing advice to West coast customers…. Read more »
— Peter Zuck, Johnny's Product Manager for Squash
Albion, Maine: November 2014 — The All America Selections Committee has chosen Butterscotch, the newest butternut variety developed by Johnny's traditional breeding team, as a 2015 National AAS Vegetable Winner….
...Butterscotch is the eighth AAS Winner chosen from more than 50 new vegetable varieties introduced by the powerhouse team over the years. [Rob] Johnston's lifelong contribution to the world of horticulture was underscored by his being awarded the prestigious Breeders Cup at the 2013 All-America Selection Summit…. Read more »
Albion, Maine: October 2, 2014 — Johnny's Selected Seeds warmly welcomes Dr. John Navazio, veteran plant breeder, agroecologist, author, and organic seed production specialist as manager of its plant breeding program. Dr. Navazio is a natural fit for Johnny's, renowned for its prodigious introduction of traditionally bred, award-winning new crop varieties to direct-market growers and avid home gardeners….
With a career path that clearly aligns with Johnny's long-term breeding goals, Dr. Navazio sees "an incredible opportunity in taking on the landmark traditional breeding work led for over four decades by Rob Johnston," Johnny's founder and CEO. "Some of North America's most important crop germplasm is being housed and developed right here in Central Maine…. Read more »
Fairfield, Maine: September 2014 — Lauded by foodies as the "new kale," Kalettes® are the striking result of a non-GMO cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. Johnny's Selected Seeds is pleased to introduce the new Kalettes seed this fall to direct-to-market commercial growers and avid home gardeners across the US and Canada, under an exclusive partnership with Tozer Seeds…. Read more »
Rob's contribution to the world of horticulture includes helping produce varieties that in diverse climates have outstanding flavor, disease resistance, and garden performance. Under Rob's leadership, the Johnny's breeding team has introduced more than 50 varieties. Seven of these Johnny's-bred varieties have been honored with the prestigious All-America Selections award…. Read more »
The Ultimate Efficiency Lettuce
Fairfield, Maine (April 2013) — Salanova is the newest innovation in lettuce for the salad mix market. Taking over 20 years for breeders to develop, Salanova's unique core structure allows fully mature, compact heads to be easily cut into individual uniform leaves. Because the heads are allowed to reach full size, they produce fully-developed flavor, texture, and color compared to baby leaf. For the first time, this line is available from Johnny's Selected Seeds to U.S. and Canada small, direct-market growers.
Praised for its versatility, efficiency and yield, Salanova offers many benefits for the grower. Salanova provides high yields at lower-cost… Read more »