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Questions About Seeds and Other Products

What are the differences between treated, untreated, organic and other types of seed?
  • Treated - Seed has been treated in an appropriate manner to protect it from specific seed- or soil-borne pathogens and thus improve its performance. The treatment may be hot water, chemical, or biological, depending on the pathogen involved. Treatment is applied under controlled conditions, in a commonly recognized fashion, at the manufacturer’s recommended rate.
  • Standard treated seed is treated using one of several industry-standard methods, which may use chemical, biological, or hot water processes.
  • Insect Guard treated corn seed is treated with Cruiser to help reduce damage from flea beetles, wireworm, seed corn maggot, and secondary pests. More info.
  • FarMore® treated pumpkin, squash, and melon seed provides broad-spectrum protection against soil-borne disease, as well as early season protection against striped cucumber beetles. More info.
  • Untreated - Seed is clean and has not been treated using any chemical, biological, or physical method. Seed crop was not grown under Certified Organic Conditions. Certified Organic Growers: Untreated seed may be allowed in Certified Organic production, provided that a comparable variety is not available in Certified Organic seed. Check with your certifying agency for approval.
  • Organic - Seed is clean and untreated, and it was grown under Certified Organic conditions. Allowed for use in Certified Organic production.
  • Filmcoat - Seed has been coated with an inert, food-grade material for easier handling and flowability. When treated seed is filmcoated, the filmcoat helps the treatment adhere to the seed. Certified Organic Growers: Filmcoat ingredients are not OMRI Listed.
  • Pelleted - Seed has been coated with an inert material in order to increase the seed size for easier planting. Certified Organic Growers: Pellet ingredients are not OMRI Listed.
  • Primed - Seed has been primed for easier germination, through a physical processes like steam treatment or through chemical treatment. Certified Organic Growers: Priming processes vary by seed type and supplier. Please contact us for more information, and check with your certifier for guidance on using primed seed.
  • Detailed - Fibrous “tails” have been removed from seeds for easier handling and flowability. This may be achieved through either a physical or chemical process. Certified Organic Growers: Detailing processes vary by seed type and supplier. Please contact us for more information, and check with your certifier for guidance on using detailed seed.

Does Harris Seeds sell genetically modified (GMO) seeds?
Harris Seeds does not sell any seed that has been genetically modified or engineered. All of our seed offerings have been developed through traditional breeding techniques.

How many seeds in a pound, for those seeds that are sold by weight?
This varies with different items. Please see each species page for weight to seed count conversion.

How many seeds does it take to plant an acre?
You can calculate your population per acre by taking 6,272,640 (number of square inches in an acre) and dividing by the number of inches between the rows (36), then dividing again by the number of inches within the row (9). 6,272,640 ÷ 36 = 174,240 and 174,240 ÷ 9 = 19,360 seeds per acre

My seed package was left outside in freezing temperatures. Will my seed be damaged?
As long as the seed did not get wet, the freezing temperatures will not hurt the seed.

Can I start my seeds in a window?
Although some have been successful, it is risky to use this technique due to light and temperature issues. Seedlings on a window sill will stretch and grow unevenly. For best germination, it is important to provide even lighting directly above the seedling tray. The use of a light stand is recommended. Uneven and fluctuating air temperatures can also cause poor and uneven germination. Providing even warmth in the soil can be accomplished by using heat mats or cables for bottom heat.

The seed packet states either light (L) or dark (D) is needed. What does this mean?
If your packet specifies light (L) for germination, you can still cover your seed very lightly with some vermiculite to help with moisture retention, but make sure that enough light shows through to the seed to initiate germination. Other species of seed germinate better in a dark (D) environment, with little to no light. In those cases, using a coarse vermiculate or a good seed starting mix to cover your seedling trays not only helps to exclude light, it also helps retain moisture.

What is a dibble hole?
A dibble is small, hand-held, pointed implement for making holes in soil. A dibble hole is a hole created in soil or planting medium for the purpose of planting seeds, bulbs or transplants. Many tools are used for creating dibble holes including fingers, pencils and pointed sticks.

What is hardening off?
A toning process that conditions plants to outdoor weather to lessen the risk of transplant shock. Do this by placing plants in a cold frame for a few days, or set them in a protected outside area for a few days while bringing them indoors at night. Using a frost protection cloth at night also helps to harden off plants.

Why do some varieties become back ordered or out of stock?
Just as you have to work with nature in producing a crop of vegetables or flowers, our seed suppliers have to work with nature to produce a crop of viable seeds. Sometimes there's just not enough seed from a given crop to meet the demand. Harris sells only seeds that meet the highest criteria. We place multiple orders for seed throughout the growing year. At times you may have to wait for a fresh seed crop to be harvested before we can provide the seed to you. Sometimes there is an unprecedented demand for varieties that address disease or climactic conditions. In those cases, demand may simply exceed supply. Our suggestion for ensuring that you receive the varieties that you prefer: order as soon as possible after you receive our catalogs.

Why has Harris Seeds stopped carrying my favorite variety (vegetable or flower)?
Unfortunately, each year our suppliers discontinue producing varieties that have been staples with our customers for many years. Breeding programs are producing new products at an unbelievable rate now and many older varieties are being replaced by the newer ones. Please call anytime you no longer see a favorite variety listed. We will be happy to recommend a suitable substitute.


The Harris Seeds company began catalog operation in 1879. It evolved from the efforts of Joseph Harris who was extremely successful in the selection of superior strains of vegetables and grains. The company became wildly popular because of his basic business philosophy - "Offer my customers a quality product at a fair price and they will return."



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P.O. Box 24966
Rochester, NY 14624

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