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Fedco Seeds Customer Letter

Mar. 2, 2014
Dear Seed Lover,

seeds order letter - top image March has arrived, coming in neither like a lamb nor a lion. Today we escaped some snow that stayed south of us, but we are still beset by unseasonably frigid temperatures. Even seasoned Mainiacs have had enough and join me in wishing for spring to arrive–though we like to joke that our harsh winters and late spring invasion of black flies keep the population down!

This year our tree catalog is enjoying record sales, more than 13% ahead of last year's, while our winter catalog divisions continue to trail last year's pace slightly. We make it a point to budget for such contingencies, so our finances remain strong. A survey in the last edition to try to help me account for these trends has brought in some helpful suggestions as well as some correlation to our difficult recent growing seasons caused by extreme weather. If you have any suggestions for us, you don't need a survey to pass them along. Reach me by email: seedquality@fedcoseeds.com. The variety suggestions I received were helpful as I shopped my friendly competitors' catalogs for trial material this past week. An outstanding growing year in 2014 would be good for our business, good for yours' and give pleasure to all.

As always we appreciate your patronage, and strive our utmost to move your orders smoothly, accurately and quickly and fix any problems that might come up courteously and efficiently. An awesome quantity of material moves through our shops in a short period of time.

Along with orders which are always fun, we get other interesting mail. A special thanks to Representative Jeffrey Evangelos, the only independent in the Maine House of Representatives who does not caucus with either party, for sharing his Op-Ed (that appeared in the Bangor Daily News on Nov. 19) on the upcoming three-way gubernatorial race in Maine that figures to be hotly contested. He has endorsed Mike Michaud. Also thanks to John Eisenstein from Port Royal, PA for turning me on to Charles Eisenstein's Sacred Economics, available for free download on the web, which is broadening my economic horizons. And to poet and CSA grower Scott Chaskey for sending a copy of his lyrical new book Seedtime which is sure to join our book selection for the 2015 catalog. And finally to the customer (whose name I've lost) who sent in the recent article on scientist Tyrone Hayes that appeared in The New Yorker Magazine on Feb, 10. After his findings implicated Syngenta's widely-used herbicide atrazine, Hayes was allegedly pursued and harassed by Syngenta. Atrazine, the 2nd most widely used herbicide in the world after Monsanto's glyphosate, is applied to more than half the corn planted in the United States. Hayes claims the herbicide impedes the sexual development of frogs. The article, currently circulating among our purchasers, is of more than academic interest to us because Syngenta is one of our major seed suppliers.

Your order form come back all marked up in red ink? If numbers are numbing, consider ordering on the web: it gets all the catalog numbers and prices correct automatically and does all the math for you!

By now, our out-of-stock list is growing and our back-orders have mostly settled out. 76 of our 1,000+ selections are to be found on our current O/S, B.O. & substitution lists, more than we wish, but not terrible. Only 9 of the back-orders are vegetables, probably the most painful of which is Mountain Magic tomato because it should be started soon. One shipment from Holland, en route and due to arrive any day, will wipe out 11 of the remaining 29 back-orders in one swoop. Sugarsnaps, still ranked our #6 best-seller, are probably our worst out-of-stock (those who are accepting subs will get one). 2,850 lb. of them arrived in our warehouse with excessive moisture content. After two weeks of drying them down, we were able to get only a 59% germination test–not good enough to send them.

Who's hot: Through Feb. 27 the runaway leader among new items was Perfection fennel (1,401 orders). Who would have thunk it would prove nearly three times as popular as Zefa Fino, despite spending considerable time on backorder? The two new lettuces Pandero and Skyphos have met with great approval, holding down 2nd and 5th spots with 839 and 588 orders respectively. Sneaking in between them in third are the Golden Gate bean (634), currently on backorder while we await more, and the surging Slick Pik summer squash (591) and closing fast. The new herbs and flowers have not done as well as I had hoped, but my vote for the most under-appreciated new item goes to Pink Princess cherry tomato (blame it on its name!) which will require only one taste to bring legions of converts.

Not lucky: The two new eggplants continue to bring up the rear of new items with only 162 sales combined. Lucky Green, with only 45, is way at the bottom.

Our overall top ten list looks familiar, with Provider beans (4,063) assuming their customary spot on top, enjoying healthy leads over Caribe coriander (3,464), Early Wonder beets (3,382) and arugula (3,368).

The kale that failed: If you think we sell a lot of lettuce and greens mixes (7,500 packets for the 10 listed), consider kale. All but two of our 9 kale varieties have surpassed 1,000 packets, totaling nearly 13,000 in all. We had a run on Winterbor, because of a worldwide seed shortage, that shot it up to 3rd place overall temporarily. Soon it was gone. We hope spring won't fail us soon.

–CR Lawn

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