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The Process of Importing Seed

You may be one of those customers who are not aware that our business is not one
that grows and harvests its own seed.  It would be an entirely different business if we did!
The land and machinery would be on a very large scale.
Published on

harvest seed3

Ever wondered where we source our massive amounts of seed?

Thought we had huge gardens with everything going to seed?

Have you ever wondered why we import seed when we could
grow and harvest it ourselves?

Interested in why we have some varieties and not others?

You may be one of those customers who are not aware that our business is not one
that grows and harvests its own seed.  It would be an entirely different business if we did!
The land and machinery would be on a very large scale.

whara garden apr17

People arrive here in Katikati expecting to see large gardens brimming with flowers, vegetables and herbs.  We do have gardens, but they're lovely display borders with just a few varieties of flowers.  Sometimes, a small vegetable patch appears outside our lunch room with things like cucumbers, tomatoes and basil.  
The popular things that we all like to eat and an odd new one to try.

Gerard & Jude grow a few varieties of their respective home gardens, usually some of the more difficult to source items such as Corn Painted Mountain, Swan Plant and some of the pumpkins.  It's a bit of a process to harvest the seed but satisfying to see the end result.

growing own

So where is the seed sourced?

The majority of our seed is imported from Italy and USA through well established companies with whom we have long-standing relationships.  In some cases, we have been dealing with the same supplier for well over 30 years.  We're often asked about where our seed comes from and it is great to be able to reassure our customers that these suppliers are of the highest calibre.

How much is sourced from NZ growers?

Although a great deal of seed is grown in NZ, particularly in the South Island, we purchase only a small number of varieties from these companies.  They're generally more generic items - manure crop components and fruiting crops such as tamarillo or passionfruit.  Sometimes this is supplied as dry, harvested seed but the fruit is often received as pulp which needs to be cleaned and dried before the seed is ready to pack.
 Funnily enough, much of the seed grown down south is packed up and sent to the Northern Hemisphere!
Many crops are contract grown for the same Italian supplier that we buy from.

Ordering from reputable companies

New Zealand has very strict import regulations and it is very important to deal with suppliers who have the capacity to meet these requirements.  The rules are changing all the time and only the larger, more established companies are able to continually keep up with these changes.  This means that the group of suppliers we deal with is small.  From time to time an exciting new variety emerges on the international scene but unless the supplier can provide the testing and subsequent documentation, it/they cannot be considered.

These tighter regulations also mean that we are forced to remove items from our range, not only because of the testing itself but also the cost of this process. For instance, from 2014 all cucurbits must be tested many times in their growing situation to watch out for a notorious virus.  This covers a huge number of varieties - Melons, Watermelons, Pumpkins & Squash, Cucumbers, Zucchinis, Gourds, Bitter Melon......

As you know, we endeavour to provide lots of interesting choices for each variety but sadly, these factors affect what we can offer.  As an example, we might be investigating an unusual melon.  Could we sell enough seed to absorb the testing costs?  This has an enormous impact on those varieties we would stock for the funky factor.

harvest storage

Import Regulations

The strict seed importation regulations in NZ are necessary without a doubt, helping to preserve our native flora and fauna as well as our crops.  However, working through the red-tape does cause frustration and subsequent delays for our customers.  We're at the mercy of our suppliers to get it right at their end
and supply seed that is perfect in every way.

Cleaning Seed
Not every seed consignment that lands in NZ makes it straight to our warehouse unimpeded. 
Gerard occasionally spends a day or two in Auckland, cleaning seed where MPI have found something that shouldn't be there.  Discussions are had as to what that something may be (sending for identification is often the result) but ultimately the seed is cleaned and reinspected before we are able to take delivery.  From time to time, a tough decision needs to be made for MPI to destroy the seed when it's simply not cost-effective to clean it. 
This forces an item to be out of stock until suppliers can send a fresh batch of seed.  This may be a long term prospect if the supplier has to wait for a new harvest.

seed clean

The cleaning process is a very time-consuming and painstaking task.  The seed can only be cleaned a sack at a time to ensure that Lot Numbers are not mixed.  The seed is emptied onto big benches and it is a matter of looking for the offending seed and separating it from the good seed.  With any luck, the offending seed will be vastly different, meaning it doesn't take long to "get our eye in" to see what to pick out.

Most staff members have accompanied Gerard to share this necessary but wearying job at some time in the past. 
It's not a job you'd queue up for - unless you like sore backs, headaches, tired eyes and sneezing from the dust.  It's always a huge relief to get to the bottom of the bag or sack and know that it is ready to book in for re-inspection.


The release of an order in its entirety is always very satisfying.  As soon as we take delivery,
its put back into stock, the packing process begins to fill the shelves
and any back-orders for our commercial growers are filled.


And lastly.....

We pride ourselves on our reputation for selling fresh seed with good germination rates. 
This entails regular stock-takes to discard old seed and refresh the range.  Regular orders are placed to keep on top of this whilst still meeting supplier minimum order quantities.  Germination tests are conducted throughout the year to ensure acceptable germination rates are always maintained.  The focus is on a "fresh is best" policy.  During the first half of the year, it is usual to have more out-of-stock items but this is the price to pay for keeping all stock totally fresh.

germ tests

Hopefully, this has given you a bit of an insight into the business of importing seed. 
If you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you.

Published on


Phil says ...
Two Melon varieties, Aspire and Inspiration have been hugely disappointing this last summer. One or at the most two small fruit per vine and then barely ripening.
Of course we have had a poor summer (Top of the Sth Is) with none of those heady weeks of hot days, so that must have contributed.
However the "Venice" variety was our benchmark for some years and was a consistantly good ripener with excellent fruit eating quality. This variety is much missed from your 2016/2017 catalogue.
I imagine other growers might have had similar experiences and if you want to supply a quality melon which is suited to our Sth Is (North/Nelson) climate, it would be appreciated if you could source this variety again!
Kind regards, ORD0177413
Kings Seeds says ...
Unfortunately Melon Venice falls into the new testing requirements and the company we sourced it from were unable to meet these requirements. We have replaced it with Melon Inspiration in the current catalogue (CAT#7448)
Suzanne says ...
It's great to read your information about the process of King Seeds. As usual there is always a bigger story behind the scenes. No business is ever easy and I was enlightened by your story.
Thank you!

I always buy your seeds and think they are great vale for money. I always tell my friends about your online set up which is fantastic. Greta job guys!

Suzanne O'Connor
joslin says ...
thanks for the information,however i would appreciate if you could enlighten me about import of regular fruit tree seeds that appear as basic in the PBI list
Kings Seeds says: Sorry, we only import seed so can't help there.
Mathew says ...
I have tried importing seed myself from places like baker creek heirloom seed with no success I was looking for many of there heirloom pumpkins squash and giant peppers like yellow monster pepper and Spanish Mammoth pepper but its impossible to import with out a phytosanitory certificate.
KINGS SEEDS says; yes, requirements of MPI need to be met when importing any seed.
Andrew[ says ...
Is there a pricelist for people in the Micro Green industry who will order 1,000,000 seeds at a time?
KINGS SEEDS says; Please email us directly for info on purchasing commercial amounts.

Oh dear!

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