Is There Really a Seed Shortage?


Do you garden? Enjoy going to local markets or shopping stores that carry locally raised products? Have you noticed a decline in available fruits, vegetables and some varieties of florals in the markets- especially the farmers markets?

The lack of readily available seed is very real. It has stopped many avid home gardeners in their tracks, and slowed production on small homesteads and farm market producers. But is there an actual shortage? I do not know. I have an opinion, but you will have to form your own. There are backups. And people have options. They could try a different variety. Instead of Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans a person could try Blue Lake Bush. Get the idea?

How the Pandemic Affected Seeds and the Seed Industry

2020 saw a lot of panic buying from first time gardeners and a substantial number of veteran gardeners. The former because they were worried how to feed their families, the later because they were worried the former would buy them all. By fall of 2020, many of the seed houses were simply sold-out. This trend continued over the winter leading up to the spring of 2021 still not having enough packaged seeds to go around. Many of the seed houses were still scrambling to fill the prior falls orders, and simply stopped taking new orders. Which made people panic buy even more.

When something we want is constantly out of stock, we have a tendency to stock up against the future. It doesn’t seem to matter if that something is Oreos, seeds or toilet paper.

The last time there was run on seed of this magnitude was right before Y2K. Do you remember that? They hype surrounding that left many feeling as if they would be facing the world alone. Seeds flew off the shelves. Particularly the heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. Literally, nary a seed to be found anywhere. Folks were calling up seed companies and saying “I’ll take one of every heirloom you have!” And this was in the era before the Internet, Amazon, and other online shopping venues.

This time, there was a huge surge in demand, delays in packaging due to people shortage attributed to Covid-19, then add in some bad weather that ruined some seed crops, all this added up to an inability to keep up. Many seed houses have ‘spare’ seed on hand, but not that much. Seeds come from somewhere. They are raised by farmers contracted specifically to grow seeds. When a particular region gets hit with drought or hail, it can wipe out those crops, delaying them another growing season. When producers can’t get enough employees in a timely fashion, this too creates delays. Now factor in shipping and packaging, remember the empty roads and businesses all due to Covid-19.

There are a lot of things behind the scenes that can cause a shortage. And once you’re behind, it takes time to catch back up. But they are working as quickly as they can to get back to 100% capacity.- READ MORE

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