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All the latest news on Starke Ayres’ vegetable seed varieties, and the success that commercial vegetable seed farmers have achieved using them.

This page will also be updated with new seed variety releases and other commercial seed industry news.

Multigreen 3 – Taking top spot as a one-cut lettuce.

The speciality lettuce market is increasingly significant. The reason why the lettuce market is leaning towards the speciality one-cut varieties is largely because of extended shelf life and aesthetic quality. Speciality lettuces are also surprisingly nutritional and tasty and can be harvested as quickly as 35 days after transplanting. Multigreen 3 (MG3) is considered as one of the most stable and reliable multileaf varieties currently available. It offers resistance to Downy Mildew (Bremia Lactucae 1 - 26), can be planted all year round and always produces evenly shaped, dark green leaves. MG3 has set the benchmark for multileaves at Starke Ayres.


Marrows and Scallops – Watch this space!

The range of marrows and scallop varieties offered by Starke Ayres remains strong market leaders with excellent fruit quality and high yields! The current line-up caters for a wide audience from supermarkets, processors and export enterprises. Never content with being run of the mill, Starke Ayres are working tirelessly to breed and select better and improved varieties for their valued clients.  At this stage new marrow and scallop varieties are being tested in your area, so watch this space for the squash varieties of the future!


Starke Ayres Winners

Congratulations to Rosebank Garden Centre, awarded the prestigious award of Business Unit of the Year 2016.


Open/View: Sales Conference BUSINESS UNIT OF THE YEAR Award - Smaller


Starke Ayres congratulates NW young farmer of the year

Starke Ayres is proud to be associated with John Griffiths, a young farmer based in Atlanta, north of Brits.  John recently won the young North West farmer of the year award for 2016.  The award is held and adjudicated under the auspices of Agri Noord Wes.

John is a young 30 year old farmer who has been farming since 2001 with his father John senior on the farm Oubaas near Roodekoppies dam in the North West province.   Since 2014, John has gone solo and now farms on the the farm Volspoed  in the Atlanta area of North West.  John has 400 ha under irrigation and plants maize, seed maize, popcorn maize, wheat, oats, dry beans, swiss chard, cabbage and butternuts.

The vegetables produced are sold to both the hawker and fresh produce markets.  John is particulartly impressed with the Ford Hook Giant supplied by Starke Ayres which  he plants throughout the year, the variety is well-known for its excellent germination, vigorous growth and high yield.  John is a very hard working focussed grower who is meticulous with regards to the management of his farm in terms of land preparation, fertilisation, irrigation and chemical spraying.

It is refreshing to see young passionate growers like John making a contribution to South African agriculture, which in turn makes one optimistic about the future of agriculture in South Africa.

Well done John.


The Benefits of Primed Seed

In the highly competitive environment that is the vegetable industry, uniform seedling emergence and crop uniformity are challenges facing many growers.  In meeting these challenges one of the techniques available to improve uniform crop establishment is the priming of seed.


Priming improves the uniformity of germination of seeds and emergence of seedlings.  It is a technique used to speed up the germination process by exposing seed to moisture for a period of time at a specific temperature.  Priming initiates the pre-germinative metabolic processes within a seed (by immersing seed in water), but prevents actual germination by inhibiting radicle emergence.  Following the initial hydration process but before the onset of radicle emergence, the seed is dried again and maintained in this state until the grower is ready to sow the seed. (Remember that primed seed has a shortened life span and is less tolerant of unfavourable storage conditions)


When the grower sows the primed seed the result is seeds with an increased germination rate and seedling uniformity compared to non-primed or raw seed.  Priming gives the seed a head start and is used on vegetable seed to increase vigour, germination and uniformity. Uniformity of emergence is of paramount importance to the vegetable grower as a uniform crop ensures a higher cut percentage in the field and consequently better financial returns. Speed and uniformity are the most beneficial effects of priming seed.


Priming also ensures that the seed can germinate over a wider range of temperatures than is normal for a particular seed type.  In lettuce, for example, priming helps overcome thermo-, and phyto- dormancy, allowing growers to sow under conditions where high temperatures would normally cause poor results. 


Current hydration protocols include the use of priming agents such as polyethylene glycol. By the use of this and other proprietary salt solutions, water potential in germinating seed is controlled and allows uptake of moisture without allowing onset of the germination process.  Once seed has been primed,  it must be used within a set period of time or else it will rapidly lose viability.  Under the correct storage regime, primed seed can generally last between 3 and 6 months.


Starke Ayres has several types of vegetable seed varieties that are available as primed seed and these include several crisp head and speciality lettuce varieties as well as certain pepper varieties. The objective of this is to provide growers with optimal quality seed produced with cutting-edge technology.


Win a Bakkie Winners

Congratulations to all our Win a Bakkie Competition Winners.

Bakkie winner  

Lella Kondylis


Trailer winners:

  1. Tim McDonald – George

  2. Sophia Spires – Botswana

  3. Justice Njambatwa – Umtata

  4. Pieter Karsten - Pretoria

Open/View: Win a Bakkie Winner Announcement smallest


Hybrid Butternut addition.

The STARKE AYRES range of butternuts was launched some 4 years ago and has enjoyed an increasing market share since then. The first releases, SHIBA and GILDA are still the mainstay of the range, but more recent additions are also gaining in popularity. ARELA (trialed as MO 868) has consistently proved to have very good uniformity of both size and shape with little ribbing over a range of growing conditions. A low percentage of large fruit is produced with the majority falling in the medium (0.9 – 1.4Kg) category in summer plantings. For markets that require fruit of up to 1Kg in weight, PETA has delivered this from summer crops. 


A particular challenge has been to find a variety that can deliver good yields of medium-sized fruit in winter plantings. These are made in frost-free regions, chiefly in the North of the country. Varieties that give the required size in summer produce smaller fruit in this time slot, so a variety with large fruit size is needed. The release of KRISTA (MO 877) aims to fill this need. Trials over the last 2 winter seasons have shown the variety is capable of producing good yields of the desired fruit size for the fresh market. If KRISTA is planted for summer production a lot of large (2Kg +) fruit can be expected. Butternuts generally achieve greater size in more Southerly locations, so growers in the Cape provinces should be aware that KRISTA will produce particularly large fruit under their conditions. If the crop is intended for processing, high yields will be realized, but most fruit will be larger than ideal for the fresh market.


The STARKE AYRES butternut breeding programme is constantly expanding with several hundred new crosses being evaluated every year. Further improved additions to the range can be expected in the near future.


ASSEGAI delivers phenomenal yields.

Dawn Dew Farms, situated in Tarlton, Gauteng  planted ASSEGAI during the past summer season and achieved phenomenal yields with this new sweet corn variety from STARKE AYRES.


ASSEGAI was planted in late October at 65 000 seeds/Ha. The ideal plant population for this variety lies between 55 000 – 65 000 plants per hectare. The results at Dawn Dew were astonishing with an average yield of 25 tonnes per hectare on a 20 ha block.  ASSEGAI has been tested in various locations throughout the country in the past few seasons and consistently produced high yields.  Even so, the results from Dawn Dew were outstanding.

ASSEGAI is a very adaptable variety and is used in the pre-packing and processing segments of the market. ASSEGAI has a tall, strong growth habit and produces long ears with excellent kernel depth. It also has an excellent disease package with resistance to local strains of common rust.  Cobs are nicely refined with a typical length of 18 – 20cm and a diameter of 50mm. It is a medium maturing variety that can be harvested at approximately 90 days from sowing.  All these attributes make ASSEGAI a good all-rounder and combined with the excellent yield potential makes it a definite winner. According to Mr Patrick Da Souza of Dawn Dew Farms the combination of disease resistance and high yield makes ASSEGAI a very good choice for this time slot.



Starke Ayres have launched two new seed packet mixes this Spring. Plant “Bee Favourites” to lure bees into your garden, and try the “Water Saving” variety which don’t require much water! And then, for the health conscious among us, buy the Starke Ayres new Salad Mix Econo packet, containing a variety of different salad ingredient seeds. Salad Econo Mix A salad combo Econo mix consisting of Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber, Radish and Sweet Pepper seeds. The perfect sized seed packet for the home gardener bringing your salad straight from your garden to your table. Water Saving Mix A colourful mix of Alyssum Poppy, Cornflower and Cosmos flower seeds which do not require much water. Bee Favourites A colourful mix of Alyssum, Aster Powder Puffs, Sunflower and Forget Me Nots flower seeds which will attract bees to your garden.

Open/View: DJOB 156 The Gardener and Die Tuiner September English



Congratulations to the Region of the year.  Southern Seed!

For more winners, view the attached document.

Congratulations to all and thank you for all your hard work and commitment.

Open/View: Sales Conference Award Winners 2015


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