No, there likely won’t be a seed apocalypse in 2020 and beyond, but, there will be a few challenges…
There definitely are some issues about the availability of some varieties of seeds in 2020, and possibly into 2021 that you should be aware of…
As you are likely aware, the demand for seeds of all kinds was way up in the spring of 2020, and demand is still far above normal. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that across the entire industry, more seeds were sold in March and April than the seed industry expected to sell for the whole year.
No one in the industry could have reasonably foreseen the spike in demand and consequently some varieties of seeds are now, or will be, in short supply. In addition, COVID related challenges caused some of our growers (especially international growers) to plant late, or to have missed planting altogether. This will likely put pressure on supply for a handful of varieties well into next year.
The bottom line: some varieties of seeds will probably be unavailable for a while, not just from True Leaf Market, but from any seed vendor. It is very important to understand that other varieties will be available. For example, based on what we are seeing we expect there to be a shortage of Detroit Dark Red Beet seeds at least into the autumn, if not beyond. However, we expect there will be plenty of beet seeds available in most other varieties. The same goes for Cherokee Purple Tomato seeds. We expect that variety to be extremely hard to find for a while, but we expect dozens and dozens of other varieties of tomato seeds will be available, with some varieties plentiful.
Another one of particular note is Black Oil Sunflower, which is one of our most popular microgreens seeds. We grow a majority of this crop in Italy, and between the COVID challenges Italy had, and subsequent delays in customs, we have been very short on black oil sunflower despite having tons of it held up in customs (which we fully expect to clear, just a question of when).
Those examples cited above are only a few examples of what will likely be dozens to hundreds of varieties that might be in short supply for a while.
We wanted to assure you that generally speaking, our inventory remains very strong overall, but we are beginning to see some difficulties in some varieties because of COVID supply chain-related challenges. We expect to have plenty of seeds available, in almost every type, just not in every variety. I.E. we carry over 100 varieties of tomato, and expect there to be supply challenges on 10 to 20% of those tomato varieties. Hopefully this understanding will give you both some peace of mind, and also some advance notice to build some flexibility into your growing plans. We plan on adding notes to every product page where varieties are out of stock to keep you informed. We will give you what info we have (if any) on when that variety will be back in stock, and more importantly cross-link to other varieties that are reasonable substitutes for the out of stock variety in question.
We can’t thank you enough for your business and hope you stay safe and healthy!
The True Leaf Market Team