Say goodbye to the "Early Girl" Tomato?

What kind of tomato do you have there? Seems that some varieties of seed my be in short supply now, and in the future. Reading the Capay Valley Farm Shop web site we find they had difficulty in sourcing Early Girl Tomato seeds this year. According to the web site, "Our suppliers were saying that Seminis, the holder of the Early Girl patent, seemed to be antagonistic towards selling seeds in small lots, and seemed to no longer be servicing the organic market. Although a standard for the truck farmer and the home garden, the Early Girl apparently wasn't as good for the supermarket in which tomatoes are picked ‘mature green’ and ripened in a CO2 room. As the story continued to unfold, we found out that seeds for one of our favorite melons, the Ambrosia melon, were also impossible to find."

Seminis was purchased by Monsanto in 2005 for $1.4 billion. The Capay Valley Farms website continues, "At the time of its purchase, Seminis controlled 40% of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20% of the world market. Seminis didn't just sell seeds, they also had a very strong in-house breeding program, supplying the genetics for 55% of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75% of the tomatoes, and 85% of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas."

These large companies see no profit in selling seed to smaller operations, so often they drop the varieties least profitable for them. Remember that Early Girl is a hybrid, and as such the seed is created each year from crossing the pollen of two different varieties. Since Monsanto owns the rights to the seed they can stop producing it any time they like. If you like Early Girl tomato you may just be out of luck. What happens when giant seed houses like Seminis and Monsanto decide to make changes like this?

We're about to find out.