by Kristen Andersen
One of the greatest responsibilities that Harris Seeds has as a vegetable seed and flower seed provider is to bring our customers the best products available on the market. To do this with confidence, in-house trials of new crop varieties and products are tested every season. The trial beds are primarily located at Harris Seeds’ Rochester, NY location where many species of vegetables, ornamental plants, and live goods are grown. By using the most up-to-date and relevant growing techniques, we can predict the productivity and quality of the products offered to our growers.
Preparing flat beds with white-on-black plastic mulch for our Brassica trial plots.
The rainy spring in NY has delayed some field plantings, but there has been no delay in planting the high tunnel trials. Inside the high tunnel, there are raised beds with drip irrigation and black plastic mulch to maintain soil moisture. This year, the high tunnel is home to pepper seed varieties, organic cucumbers, organic summer squash, lisianthus, and calla lilies.
Bell pepper seedlings planted in our high tunnel raised beds.
The vegetable field trials include greens, lettuce, brassicas, beans, root crops, watermelon, melon, cucumber, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, and more! The ornamental field trials include sunflowers, petunias, calibrachoa, pentas, euphorbia, gazania, zinnia, canna, begonia, and many more. The field trials help to identify new varieties that will perform well for growers and meet consumer expectations. The anticipation and excitement continues to grow to see which ones will stand out this year!
Lettuce transplants for field trials
In addition to field trial beds there are several display beds, container and hanging basket plantings, and a home garden display area. These settings are a great opportunity to showcase the potential of chosen varieties to be used in creative ways. The home garden display area is a new addition to the trial program this year. Some new components we will be experimenting with include a spiral herb garden, raised beds, and patio containers.
As the season progresses, stay tuned for trial updates, including favorite new varieties and the upcoming construction of display beds.
Kristen Andersen is the Trials Manager at Harris Seeds and GardenTrends. She has a Master’s Degree in Plant Breeding and Horticulture from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Science from SUNY Cobleskill. Kristen comes from a multi-generational farm where she developed a passion for agriculture and gardening. She arranges all Harris Seeds trials at our location in Rochester, NY, as well as with grower cooperators located around the country, to ensure that we offer varieties and products of the best quality that will make our customers more successful.