Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

COVID-19 Updates News Planting Vegetables
Seed companies prioritize commercial growers as interest in home gardens grow

Some seed companies are only fulfilling orders from commercial customers in the first week of April in response to a spike in order volumes from home gardeners.


March 31, 2020
By Stephanie Gordon


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Several seed companies are prioritizing commercial customers due to high demand from home gardeners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Empty grocery store shelves and more time spent at home has blossomed the demand for gardening supplies and seed among Canadians.

The increased interest in growing food at home has resulted in seed companies receiving more orders for seed. A spike in order volume mixed with business delays because of COVID-19 precautions has resulted in some seed companies optimizing their operations for commercial growers first.

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Stokes Seeds closed its website and will not be accepting any web orders until after April 3. Stokes Seeds say the website shutdown is “due to the recent unprecedented surge in orders from home gardeners” and the “many shutdowns that have affected our operations.”

However, commercial vegetable growers will not be impacted.

“In order to ensure the food security of the coming season we are focusing our limited resources on commercial vegetable grower orders and home garden orders already in our system,” Stokes Seeds’ website reads.

Stokes Seeds has shutdown its website due to a spike in demand from home gardeners. Screenshot from stokeseeds.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds is also prioritizing commercial customers.

“We are only accepting new orders from commercial customers shipping to the U.S. and Canada at this time . . . We apologize to our home garden and international customers for this inconvenience,” a release from Johnny’s Selected Seeds reads.

The restriction applies to the call centre and all orders placed via phone, email, fax, and mail. Johnny’s Selected Seeds plans to resume taking orders from all customers on April 6.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds also noted that some growers may experience shipping delays, up to two days for commercial orders.

These restrictions are only in place for the first week of April, or for Johnny’s until April 6. The restrictions produce minor ripple effects for their customers and are to be expected given that businesses everywhere are anticipating delays to ensure the safety of their staff and customers during COVID-19.

High Mowing Organic Seeds also noted an increase in order volume but has not distinguished between commercial customers and home gardeners for its processing priorities. However, the company has extended its shipping turnaround time to seven to 10 days.

The delay in shipping is “due to the increase in order volume and the new safety protocols being utilized in our warehouse,” the company states. As of March 30, 2020, growers can expect orders of in-stock items will ship within seven to 10 days of processing.

Norseco remains open with new pick-up procedures in place but noted an “intermittent overload of telephone networks.”

Agro Haitai, which specializes in oriental vegetable seeds, is operating as usual but say customers “may experience shipping delay and arrival delay” due to an increased volume of online orders and third-party service interruption.

Other seed companies, such as PanAmerican Seed, Rupp Seeds, T&T Seeds, and Atlantic Pepper Seeds, have not released any special updates and are operating uninterrupted with extra protection protocols in place.