Sakata field trials eye growers, buyers, distributorsSALINAS, Calif. — Sakata Seed America Inc. drew an international mix of growers and seed distributors for its California summer field trials in Salinas and Davis.

About 300 attendees, including produce buyers from Wal-Mart and Costco, were expected to visit the open houses Aug. 20-24.

“It’s a great opportunity to see from the source what’s going to be hitting the supermarkets in the not so distant future,” said John Nelson, director of vegetable sales and marketing for Sakata Seed America. “Some are looking for certain products, and others are looking for something different. Buyers want to come closer to the source of what they’re going to be purchasing at some point.”

Cool-season crops — broccoli, baby leaf, beets, cabbages, cauliflower, chards, Chinese cabbage, pak choi, turnips — were shown in Salinas. Warm-season commodities — melons, onions, sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash and watermelons — were featured at Davis.

Among the products on display in the fields of the Sakata Research Station in Salinas:

  • Centennial broccoli from Sakata, which plans to name a series of centennial varieties for its 100th anniversary in 2013;
  • Peppermint swiss chard from Chriseed, with a pink-striped white petiole;
  • Celebration swiss chard from Chriseed, with petioles in red, pink, yellow and orange;
  • Primo Vantage, a short-core cabbage from Sakata;
  • Grand Vantage, a midseason cabbage from Sakata;
  • Two dark green, spade-shaped baby leaf varieties from Chriseed, yet to be named, and many others.

Sakata field trials eye growers, buyers, distributorsGrowers and seed distributors came to the Davis and Salinas trials from Australia, China, Japan, Mexico, Central America, South America and Europe, according to the company.

“Sakata is known as the leader in broccoli so we have an extensive offering of broccolis that are being shown,” Nelson said. “The age-old theme is ‘How can you give us products that will deliver excellent quality at a cheaper price?’ In other words, increased yield, better disease resistance and things that will make them more secure financially that come through the input side.”

“We have some mildew resistant spinach and some new broccolis that can be exciting in a lot of different growing regions of the world,” Nelson said. “It really is a lot of different things for a lot of different markets.”