New Zealand Seed Industry News

This page features a compilation and selection of New Zealand seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in and of the island country of Maori Aotearoa, AKA New Zealand. 

The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.

This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.


NZ seed exports up 4.6% in 2020: The value of New Zealand seed exports increased by 4.6% in 2020 compared to a year earlier, to record $250m in receipts according to the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA). Latest data issued by StatsNZ, shows seed export values have grown 44% from $173m five years ago. Whilst NZ exports more than 30 different seed types internationally pasture seed and vegetable seed were the key export categories. Read the full story by NZGSTA here

Record for ryegrass proprietary pasture seed: According to Calendar year 2020 sales figures from the Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA), over 10,700 tonnes of branded proprietary pasture seed was sold to farmers, which is 21% more than 2015. This was the strongest sales year on record. Proprietary seed, which comes with built-in technological advances to increase performance, is increasingly recognised as the one of the best investment farmers can make in their land. Read full story by NZGSTA here.

NZGSTA gets new president: At a New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) Council meeting in December, 2020 Michael Hales (Barenbrug) was unanimously elected President of the Association. He takes on the role until the Association’s Annual General Meeting to be held in October 2021. The election was called following the resignation of the association’s previous president George Gerard. Evan Johnson will continue as Vice President and the filling of the vacant General Councilor role will be advised shortly. For full council list, see NZGSTA website here.

Seed Certification stats, PVP Amendment Bill and NZGSTA Conference 2021: A recent newsletter by the NZGSTA has shared stats showing that nearly 40,000 hectares of seed crops were had been entered into the country’s certification system in 2020/21; During the first Parliamentary session for the year the Association is expecting to see the Plant Variety Rights Amendment Bill to be debated in the House; The 2021 Annual Conference of the NZ Grain & Seed Trade Association is planned to be held at the InterContinental Hotel in Wellington, 20-21 October,  2021. Read news in detail from NZGSTA newsletter here.

ToBRFV detected in ‘pest free’ declared seeds: December 2020:
Biosecurity New Zealand was alerted by industry of the presence of Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) in seeds imported from Israel. The seeds were reportedly accompanied with a phytosanitary certificate with a declaration that they were free of ToBRFV based on testing offshore; however tests in New Zealand found otherwise. Biosecurity New Zealand reportedly destroyed all tomato plants that were grown in close proximity to the affected plants. Read more here on Hort Daily and Horticulture New Zealand

PGG Wrightson Seeds’ seed treatment line in Uruguay: December 2020:
New Zealand’s largest seed company will distribute the group's line of Pro Farm UBP Technology products in Uruguay. According to a report, “The UBP Seed Treatment is based on a proprietary process turning plant-based lignin into a supramolecular, nutrient complex that supports plant growth and improves plant health, resulting in improved yields and crop quality. The seed treatment has proven applications on soybeans, wheat, oats, sorghum, and forage crops, all of which are widely grown in Uruguay.” The move stems from a recently signed agreement that provides the New Zealand company with “exclusive crop dependent selling rights to MBI’s Pro Farm UBP seed treatment line for the next five years (2020-2025) in Uruguay.” Read more details here

2020 News


NOVEMBER 2020: A narrow, simple majority of New Zealander voters on November 6 voted not to legalise cannabis in a national referendum. According to media reports, including this one from The Guardian,The yes vote for legalising cannabis finished with 48.4% of the vote, trailing the no vote on 50.7%” The total number of votes in the referendum was reported to be 2.9 million. According to the above report “voters were asked to decide whether they wanted to pass a bill that would legalise cannabis and regulate how it is used and sold …” including for the producing and selling of fresh and dried cannabis, “including plants and seeds – for people over 20 years old.” For more information about the New Zealand cannabis industry, see this report.

Seed banking as extinction insurance in face of myrtle rust incursion: AUGUST 2020:
Scientists in New Zealand are working passionately to conserve trees and shrubs potentially facing extinction in the coming decades should the spread of an exotic fungus continue.. According to this article, the scientists had received warnings from colleagues in Australia to “seed bank early,” Hence the scientists have prioritized getting the threatened species into seed banks. Myrtle rust was detected in Australia in 2010 and in New Zealand in 2017. It is unclear which species will survive the myrtle rust incursion, or for how long. More details here.

Judge dismisses substandard fodder seed quality, failed crop case: AUG 2020:
A judge has dismissed the case of a dairy farming company who took its seed supplier to court over a failed crop, “saying there was no evidence the seed company acted in any way intended to mislead or deceive.” The dairy farming company, which operates a dairy farm near Temuka, South Canterbury, had reportedly opened an account with the supplier of agricultural products in January 2018, and purchased 152 bags of fodder beet seed in November, 2019. However, when yields failed to deliver to expectations, the company filed the case. Full details here

What happen to an ecosystem that loses beneficial ‘seed predators’?: AUGUST 2020:
A new study led by a post-doctoral researcher at Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research is highlighting the significance of beneficial “seed predators” in an ecosystem.  In the words of the lead research, "It’s easy to understand why we should be worried when pollinators or seed dispersers have gone extinct, but ecologists tend to be less concerned about losing so-called ‘negative’ species interactions such as seed predation. These are important functions in island ecosystems too, yet we know very little about them". More details here