Plant Breeder Rob Johnston, Jr.
Our mission at Johnny's Selected Seeds is "Helping families, friends, and communities to feed one another by providing superior seeds, tools, information, and service."
In our efforts to provide "superior seeds," the research, production, and marketing people at Johnny's work to develop, produce, and offer seeds of improved varieties. Our core customers are:
1) the mixed market gardener, and
2) the avid home gardener.
If you think about it, they typically grow a wide variety of crops and aren't apt to have ideal weather or soil, or perfected skills to grow all of them, but they still want to end up with good yields of high-quality produce, particularly good-tasting produce. So, it's our objective to provide the seeds that will best help them do that.
The crux is this: the varieties have to be both easy to grow in a range of climates and soils, and good tasting.
The two keys to our providing those varieties are our cooperators and our own plant breeding program.
We have dozens of relationships with individuals we call "cooperators": breeders and seed producers of innovative vegetables, herbs, flowers, berries, and farm seeds and tools. Each year we grow and evaluate "trials" of all of the important crops. A "trial" is where we grow side-by-side and compare new varieties from these cooperators, current Johnny's varieties, new experimentals from our breeding programs, and our competitors' best varieties. A trial is our proving ground, the main tactic in our decision-making about changes in the product line.
Vegetables are our largest product category. Most vegetable breeding is geared towards the big acreages in the primary commercial production areas. Using North America to illustrate, lettuce breeders typically focus on California and Arizona climates with bright, dry conditions; tomatoes for fresh consumption are mostly bred for the big acreages in dependably sunny and warm Mexico and Florida.
Sometimes one of these varieties will satisfy our easy-to-grow and good-tasting requirements and will make a good candidate for our product line. Not always, though. So we try to focus our plant breeding efforts at Johnny's on the niches left unfilled by other breeders with whom we cooperate.
For example, hot weather tolerance isn't an objective of a typical lettuce breeder, leaving an important need of many of our customers unfilled. So, it's one of the most important goals in our lettuce breeding at Johnny's. The same goes for resistance in tomatoes to fungal foliar diseases: early blight, late blight, and Septoria leaf spot.
Thank you for reading. And thank you for your business. We are interested in hearing your questions and your suggestions.
Rob Johnston, Jr.
Founder, Chairman, Plant Breeder (Retired)