Contact Us MENU

Latest news

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.

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


Diva Goes under Cover.

DIVA goes under cover!

DIVA has proved itself an excellent sweet pepper variety over the past few years, performing well under protection as well as in open field situations. This past season DIVA has also excelled in the Eastern Cape, outperforming many established varieties.

DIVA is renowned for its excellent fruit quality, thick walls and uniform blocky shape. It maintains this shape and size throughout the growing cycle and this contributes to the high yield potential. DIVA has the ability to set fruit under difficult conditions and so produce profitable crops even under adverse circumstances. The fruit of DIVA develops from a dark green immature colour to an attractive bright yellow when mature. It has a medium size plant with good leave cover that protects against sun burn in open field productions. This hybrid should be trellised to ensure optimum yield.

DIVA was one of the top varieties in an Eastern Cape greenhouse production during summer 2014/15. It yielded an outstanding 16.21 kg of fruit per square meter compared to the 12-13 Kg achieved by the closest competitors. The producer was not only impressed by the yield potential and fruit quality, but also found the plant structure suited the existing management system very well. A medium sized plant is generally preferred over large, extremely vigorous plants which tend to grow quickly and produce a plant that is more difficult to manage.


Starke Ayres donation - Hope Farm/ School

A letter of thanks from Belinda associated with Hope School in KwaZulu-Natal. 


Hi there


I just wanted to thank you all so very much for the visit today.  It was really great to show you around and tell you of our future projects and ideas.


Starke Ayres as a company has been most kind to us and we wouldn't of been able to substitute the diets of 185 children with fresh produce if it wasn't for your very kind donation.


Once again, I am so happy that you took the time to visit. 


Warm regards



Pinnacle of Gem Squash Production.

The gem squash PINNACLE was introduced some while ago and despite limited seed availability made a big impact on the market. The variety has intermediate resistance to Zucchini Yellows Mosaic Virus and Powdery Mildew. Uniformity of fruit size and colour is good and productivity has been seen to be very high. Plant growth habit is less prone than other varieties and this makes early access easier (Fig.2) One of the first growers to plant Pinnacle on a large scale is Pieter Zietsman of Zietsman Boerdery in the Tom Burke area. The meticulous management practices applied by Pieter and farm manager Emile du Plessis are evident in the accompanying pictures. Grown through winter on the farm Berné, this block was sown in late April and early May and harvest was from the 1st week of June until late September. The block delivered a total yield of well over 40t/Ha marketable fruit. This is quite remarkable for a crop that more commonly delivers closer to 25t/Ha. The dark fruit gives a very attractive final product when packed (Fig 3.) Smaller fruit showed good enough form and colour to be used for the baby gem market. Pinnacle has the potential to become the leading gem squash variety in South Africa. Together with the established STAR 8001, Starke Ayres is in the unique position of being able to offer a choice of hybrid gem squash varieties.


Starke Ayres expanding into Africa

04 February 2015

Dear Valued Customer,

Starke Ayres South Africa is both excited and proud to announce that we will be opening an office in Nairobi on March 1.

As you know Starke Ayres seed has been available to Kenyan growers through Pannar for many years.  However, we believe that customers such as yourself and the East African market as a whole are extremely important to us and have decided to set up our own office to better service our growing client base in the region.

Our new office, will be headed by Josphat Njoroge.  He is available to answer any questions that you may have and can be contacted on his mobile - +254 700 456 248, landline +254 (0)20 665 9960 or +254 (0) 20 665 9961 and by email -

Physical address:

Godown no. 8 L/R 15130

Mombasa Road



We look forward to introducing you to our seed experts. Starke Ayres has put in place a highly knowledgeable and experienced sales team that can advise you on the best vegetable seed selections for your individual growing conditions and marketplace objectives. In addition, our product advisors, who are experts in their particular crop ranges, are committed to providing you with on-going advice and support.

Starke Ayres specialises in supplying vegetable, turf grass and flower seed varieties. We strive to produce seeds of the highest purity and germination capability. This is ensured via both rigorous quality control and our own breeding programmes which are, in turn, supported by extensive research and testing. 

However, we believe that it is our after-sales service that sets us apart. This moves beyond conventional efficiencies to actively building relationships with our customers. That is because we feel it is crucial to work in partnership with you and assist you to better serve both regional markets and export markets in the United Kingdom and Europe which have particularly rigorous quality standards in place.

I would like to assure you that, through our team of professional representatives, we will always be on hand to provide you with the best quality seeds, backup, support and personalised, specialised advice.

For more information, please visit


Kind regards,

Bryan Featonby-Smith


Open/View: PRESS Starke Ayres Advert for Africa


Search Products

This site is maintained by Indicate Brand Mangers and Stringlite Interactive Media. January 2017

Sitemap | Copyright 2017

Seeds of Success