As you look at seed for the coming year you may notice some varieties are marked as being AAS award winners. But what does this mean? Who is the AAS and why should you value their selections?
AAS stands for All-America Selections, which is an independent, non-profit organization. Their mission is to promote new garden varieties based on impartial trials. According to their website they give three tiers of awards.
Gold Medal Award - only given once or twice a decade, and is reserved for a breeding breakthrough.
AAS National Winner - recognizes an ornamental or edible for significant breeding achievements, proven to demonstrate superior garden performance as compared to other like varieties on the market. Judges are asked to evaluate characteristics such as earliness, taste, disease-resistance, uniqueness and more, depending on the species.
AAS Regional Winner - given to varieties that do not perform exceptionally well in ALL regions but instead exhibit specific performance in just a few specific regions of North America.
The winners are selected by Horticulturalists who volunteer their time to judge the tested varieties in comparison to existing varieties. The locations of these evaluations change from year to year but their FAQ page says, “Universities, public gardens, breeding companies, growers, brokers, extension agents and retailers are current and potential judging sites.”
AAS started back in 1932 because there was a lack of reliable garden information sources and a great demand for this information. AAS provided a means of collecting reliable data that could then be relayed back to the public. This is not a government run organization, instead it is an organization created by members of the horticulture industry meant to aid each other in the endeavor of furthering plant development.
We offer many AAS Selections in herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Some of our staff's favorites include:
Sweet Banana Peppers, Celebrity Hybrid Tomato, Sweet Success Hybrid Cucumber, Lemon Boy Hybrid Tomato, Black Pearl Ornamental Peppers, and Red Sails Lettuce.
When planning your garden for the coming season we encourage you to try something new. There are always new varieties being developed or rediscovered through seed exchanging.
Just because a seed is not used for commercial production does not mean it is not good. Some of the best tasting varieties will never be seen in a store. In fact much of the produce seen in markets lack bursting flavor as it is harvested early, or selected for its shipping qualities, rather than taste.
You may discover a new favorite among the different colors and textures that naturally vary among produce. Let us know what your favorites are and why by tagging us with #TrueLeafMarket on social media.