Contact Us MENU

Latest news

All the latest news on Starke Ayres’ vegetable seed varieties, and the success that commercial vegetable seed farmers have achieved using them.

This page will also be updated with new seed variety releases and other commercial seed industry news.

Rugani 100% Carrot Juice a 21st Century Food


An interview with Vito Rugani explaining the intricacies and benefits of our Carrot Juice.


Green Coronet continues to thrive.

Green Coronet has proven itself over many years as a reliable winter cabbage where ever it is grown.  This consistency can be traced back to the mid 1980’s when it was first introduced to the South African market. Grower  Nico Smuts of Wesco Holdings, farms in the Hekpoort area of the North West province finds that Green Coronet fits perfectly into his winter cabbage programme. The variety fulfils his needs for both the processing as well the bagging markets.  Nico supplies Green Coronet to the Johannesburg and Pretoria fresh produce markets as a bagging cabbage. He also supplies 2 leading fresh produce processors that use Green Coronet for the salad and prepared food segments.


Nico plants Green Coronet form March to June at 35 000 plants per hectare and cites the uniformity and high cut percentage as stand-out qualities of the variety.  With a pedigree and track record that date back many years, Green Coronet is one of the most consistent and reliable winter cabbages in South Africa.


Green Coronet takes 90 -110 days from transplant to harvest in the spring/summer growing slot and 120 – 140 days in the autumn/winter slot. (The variety has a low to intermediate resistance to black rot and therefore it is better suited to the cooler slots where black rot pressure is lower). Key features of the variety include an attractive blue/green colour, good bolting resistance (especially in the critical winter spring harvesting slot), cold tolerance and adaptability with a medium to large head size.  Consult your sales representative or our offices for information on best sowing times for your region.


Starke Ayres Combination of Fusarium Race 3 and virus resistances expands tomato range.

Fusarium wilt is a disease well-known to tomato farmers. Previously discussed at length, the disease seems now to be prevalent in most major tomato growing areas of South Africa.  Together with increasing pressure from viruses such as Tomato curly stunt virus (ToCSV) and Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), the need for a combination of resistances is clear.

Most commercial varieties currently available in South Africa carry the I-2 gene, responsible for resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici (Fol) races 1 & 2. In recent times these varieties have shown an increasing incidence of a disease characterised by yellowing and wilting typical of Fusarium wilt. Material carrying the I-3 gene responsible for resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici race 3 (Fol-3) was recently trialled alongside current (I-2 carrying) commercial standards. Varieties with the I-3 gene were not affected by the disease while the standards exhibited typical symptoms.  Two of these trial varieties will be commercialized, one of which is a saladette and the other a round. Both are determinate and have resistance to Fol-3 and some of the more common virus diseases.

*CASSANDRA is a determinate saladette for the fresh and informal markets. It has early to medium maturity, taking around 80 days to first harvest. Plant growth is compact with a concentrated set and harvest period of around 6 – 8 weeks. The variety has very large, blocky, egg-shaped fruits weighing between 140 and 160 g. CASSANDRA has high resistance to Verticilium wilt (Va/Vd), Fusarium wilt (Fol: 1-3), Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV), Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), ToCSV and intermediate resistance to root-knot nematodes (Ma/Mi/Mj), bacterial speck (Pst) and TSWV.

*ZOEY is a determinate round tomato variety for the fresh and informal markets. It has early maturity of 75-80 days to first harvest. The variety has a compact growth habit with a concentrated set and harvest period of around 4-6 weeks. ZOEY has a deep oblate fruit shape with an average weight between 140 and 160 g. It has high resistance to Va/Vd, Fol: 1-3, TMV, TYLCV, ToCSV and intermediate resistance to Ma/Mi/Mj.

Seed of both these varieties are available from STARKE AYRES or your area specific sales representative. or call on 0860 782 753.

Measures to limit the impact of Fusarium Wilt include:

  1. Crop Rotation -Fusarium is widespread and persists for several years in soil, a long crop rotation (4 to 6 years) is necessary to reduce populations.
  2. Hygiene - wherever practical, infested plant material should be removed and destroyed after harvest.
  3. Management – should aim to maintain a high level of plant vigour with appropriate fertilization and irrigation, but avoid over-irrigation, particularly early in the season.
  4. Planning - If soils are severely infested, future production of Solanaceous crops may be difficult.
  5. Water quality - the pathogen can be present in irrigation water. In this case water needs to treated or filtered (the micro conidia of F. oxysporum can be as small as 2.5 μm).
  6. Use of resistant varieties.                                            



Multigreen 3 – Taking top spot as a one-cut lettuce.

The speciality lettuce market is increasingly significant. The reason why the lettuce market is leaning towards the speciality one-cut varieties is largely because of extended shelf life and aesthetic quality. Speciality lettuces are also surprisingly nutritional and tasty and can be harvested as quickly as 35 days after transplanting. Multigreen 3 (MG3) is considered as one of the most stable and reliable multileaf varieties currently available. It offers resistance to Downy Mildew (Bremia Lactucae 1 - 26), can be planted all year round and always produces evenly shaped, dark green leaves. MG3 has set the benchmark for multileaves at Starke Ayres.


Marrows and Scallops – Watch this space!

The range of marrows and scallop varieties offered by Starke Ayres remains strong market leaders with excellent fruit quality and high yields! The current line-up caters for a wide audience from supermarkets, processors and export enterprises. Never content with being run of the mill, Starke Ayres are working tirelessly to breed and select better and improved varieties for their valued clients.  At this stage new marrow and scallop varieties are being tested in your area, so watch this space for the squash varieties of the future!


Starke Ayres Winners

Congratulations to Rosebank Garden Centre, awarded the prestigious award of Business Unit of the Year 2016.


Open/View: Sales Conference BUSINESS UNIT OF THE YEAR Award - Smaller


Starke Ayres congratulates NW young farmer of the year

Starke Ayres is proud to be associated with John Griffiths, a young farmer based in Atlanta, north of Brits.  John recently won the young North West farmer of the year award for 2016.  The award is held and adjudicated under the auspices of Agri Noord Wes.

John is a young 30 year old farmer who has been farming since 2001 with his father John senior on the farm Oubaas near Roodekoppies dam in the North West province.   Since 2014, John has gone solo and now farms on the the farm Volspoed  in the Atlanta area of North West.  John has 400 ha under irrigation and plants maize, seed maize, popcorn maize, wheat, oats, dry beans, swiss chard, cabbage and butternuts.

The vegetables produced are sold to both the hawker and fresh produce markets.  John is particulartly impressed with the Ford Hook Giant supplied by Starke Ayres which  he plants throughout the year, the variety is well-known for its excellent germination, vigorous growth and high yield.  John is a very hard working focussed grower who is meticulous with regards to the management of his farm in terms of land preparation, fertilisation, irrigation and chemical spraying.

It is refreshing to see young passionate growers like John making a contribution to South African agriculture, which in turn makes one optimistic about the future of agriculture in South Africa.

Well done John.


The Benefits of Primed Seed

In the highly competitive environment that is the vegetable industry, uniform seedling emergence and crop uniformity are challenges facing many growers.  In meeting these challenges one of the techniques available to improve uniform crop establishment is the priming of seed.


Priming improves the uniformity of germination of seeds and emergence of seedlings.  It is a technique used to speed up the germination process by exposing seed to moisture for a period of time at a specific temperature.  Priming initiates the pre-germinative metabolic processes within a seed (by immersing seed in water), but prevents actual germination by inhibiting radicle emergence.  Following the initial hydration process but before the onset of radicle emergence, the seed is dried again and maintained in this state until the grower is ready to sow the seed. (Remember that primed seed has a shortened life span and is less tolerant of unfavourable storage conditions)


When the grower sows the primed seed the result is seeds with an increased germination rate and seedling uniformity compared to non-primed or raw seed.  Priming gives the seed a head start and is used on vegetable seed to increase vigour, germination and uniformity. Uniformity of emergence is of paramount importance to the vegetable grower as a uniform crop ensures a higher cut percentage in the field and consequently better financial returns. Speed and uniformity are the most beneficial effects of priming seed.


Priming also ensures that the seed can germinate over a wider range of temperatures than is normal for a particular seed type.  In lettuce, for example, priming helps overcome thermo-, and phyto- dormancy, allowing growers to sow under conditions where high temperatures would normally cause poor results. 


Current hydration protocols include the use of priming agents such as polyethylene glycol. By the use of this and other proprietary salt solutions, water potential in germinating seed is controlled and allows uptake of moisture without allowing onset of the germination process.  Once seed has been primed,  it must be used within a set period of time or else it will rapidly lose viability.  Under the correct storage regime, primed seed can generally last between 3 and 6 months.


Starke Ayres has several types of vegetable seed varieties that are available as primed seed and these include several crisp head and speciality lettuce varieties as well as certain pepper varieties. The objective of this is to provide growers with optimal quality seed produced with cutting-edge technology.


Win a Bakkie Winners

Congratulations to all our Win a Bakkie Competition Winners.

Bakkie winner  

Lella Kondylis


Trailer winners:

  1. Tim McDonald – George

  2. Sophia Spires – Botswana

  3. Justice Njambatwa – Umtata

  4. Pieter Karsten - Pretoria

Open/View: Win a Bakkie Winner Announcement smallest


Hybrid Butternut addition.

The STARKE AYRES range of butternuts was launched some 4 years ago and has enjoyed an increasing market share since then. The first releases, SHIBA and GILDA are still the mainstay of the range, but more recent additions are also gaining in popularity. ARELA (trialed as MO 868) has consistently proved to have very good uniformity of both size and shape with little ribbing over a range of growing conditions. A low percentage of large fruit is produced with the majority falling in the medium (0.9 – 1.4Kg) category in summer plantings. For markets that require fruit of up to 1Kg in weight, PETA has delivered this from summer crops. 


A particular challenge has been to find a variety that can deliver good yields of medium-sized fruit in winter plantings. These are made in frost-free regions, chiefly in the North of the country. Varieties that give the required size in summer produce smaller fruit in this time slot, so a variety with large fruit size is needed. The release of KRISTA (MO 877) aims to fill this need. Trials over the last 2 winter seasons have shown the variety is capable of producing good yields of the desired fruit size for the fresh market. If KRISTA is planted for summer production a lot of large (2Kg +) fruit can be expected. Butternuts generally achieve greater size in more Southerly locations, so growers in the Cape provinces should be aware that KRISTA will produce particularly large fruit under their conditions. If the crop is intended for processing, high yields will be realized, but most fruit will be larger than ideal for the fresh market.


The STARKE AYRES butternut breeding programme is constantly expanding with several hundred new crosses being evaluated every year. Further improved additions to the range can be expected in the near future.


Search Products

This site is maintained by Indicate Brand Mangers and Stringlite Interactive Media. January 2019

Sitemap | Copyright 2019

Seeds of Success