ferry morse seeds at half price

telow(7a)January 4, 2011

Everyone on this forum knows more about where to buy seeds than I do but I havent seen anyone mention TGN Pumkin Nook. I've ordered from them twice already and got both orders within a week. Most ferry morse seeds were 79 cents a packet. Shipping was under 3 dollars. Just thought I would throw this out.

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Hello Experts, could you please clarify why there is huge price difference between two companies for exactly same seeds.
For example, Tomato Big Boy Hybrid for a packet cost $3.25 in Burpee and same seed packet (even with pelleted seeds!) cost only $0.99 in Ferry Morse.

Why is that huge difference? Is there any difference in seed breeding and overall quality wrt to taste and production? These things always confused me whenever I want order online.

here is link for above two examples;


Thank you -Chandra

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:25AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

We don't know enough about the individual packets of seeds to answer that question.

Some discount websites and seed companies sell seeds from the previous season. In and of itself, that is not necessarily a problem, assuming the seeds have been kept in proper storage conditions so the quality of the seeds has not significantly degraded. So, if you are buying less expensive seeds to plant in 2011 and those seeds were packed for 2011 or 2010, you likely would have similar germination rates for most varieties. However, if the seeds were packed for 2008 or 2009, your germination rates might drop. Seed viability differs from one type of vegetable or flower to another, though, so there's no cut-and-dried way to say "oh, anything less than 5 years old is going to germinate well". A blanket statement of that type might be true of tomatoes, for example, but not lettuce or onion seed.

There also is a huge variation in the number of seeds in a packet. Some companies might put 40 tomato seeds in a packet. Some might put only 10. If you're buying from a company that doesn't tell you how many seeds are in a packet (either by weight or by seed count), you don't know what you're getting. Sometimes the cheaper pack is not always the better deal.

Even with Burpee seeds, there is often a difference between the number of seeds in catalog packs versus the number of sees in retail store packs. A few years ago, a Gardenweb member whose user name was "GoneFishin'" ordered seed of one specific tomato variety (might have been Porterhouse) online and then picked up a seed packet of the same variety at a local store to test our theory that the catalog packs had more seed per pack. The packet from Burpee was about $4.00 or $4.25 but contained 40 or 50 seeds. The packet from Wal-Mart was about $1.26 or $1.37 and it contained 8 or 9 seeds. After he reported those results, I did the same thing the following year with a new zinnia introduction. Sure enough, the more expensive pack from the website/catalog had 40 seeds and the 4 packets I bought at a local store had between 7 and 9 seeds. So, even though the cheaper packets seemed like a better deal initially, I would have had to buy 5 or 6 packets of the cheaper seeds at the store to get the same amount of seed that was found in a more expensive packet from the website.

For a while, Thompson & Morgan sold their surplus seed on a website called Value Seed for 99 cents a pack, and it was understood that this was a clearance website and you likely were getting "old" seed. However, most folks who bought the slightly older surplus seed did not have germination problems.

Many seed companies buy their seed from the same seed wholesalers so often the seed from one company is no different than the seed from another time at the time the bulk purchase is made. From that point on, different companies pack, ship and store seeds differently and that can affect viability. Companies that pack their seeds inside little foil packets which then are inside the paper packets probably ensure better viability. Companies that store their seeds in climate-controlled warehouse probably ensure better viability.

As a consumer, it is hard to know which companies to trust. I tend to use the same companies over and over because I've had success with their seed and trust it. The companies I choose are not always the highest priced ones or the lowest priced ones, but the more reliable ones.

When purchasing from a specific company for the first time ever, I make small purchases and run germination tests to see if the seeds I bought will germinate well. If there are germination issues, I probably won't buy from that company again.

When a company has an exclusive variety that only they and/or their sister companies (owned by the same holding corp.) sell, it usually is more expensive than an open-pollinated variety sold by every company in the world. That's the law of supply and demand at work.

Big Boy tomato seed has been around for decades and you can buy it plenty of places for around $1 or $2 per pack. Brandy Boy F-1 hybrid is a Burpee exclusive, though, and it is available from only a couple of Burpee-owned companies and it will run $4 or $5 per pack. So, with any variety you purchase, you need to do your research well in order to know you're getting the best price.

Hope this info helps a little. I always carry the thought around in my mind that "if anything seems too good to be true, it usually is" or "buyer beware". I knowthere are some great discount seed companies out there, but you have to start slow with a company that's new to you and not sink too much money into their seeds until you've tested a few to see how they perform. Some of the bigger companies with big name reputation, and Burpee Seed is a good example of this, do charge higher prices. They have huge printing costs for those glossy, photo-laden catalogs and they have big advertising budgets. Smaller, online firms avoid many of those costs and pass the savings along to the consumer. That's not a bad thing.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:19AM
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I held a packet of Black Krim up to the light this morning and counted somewhere between 35 or 45 seeds. They say packed for 2011. Whether they have been stored for awhile or not, I could'nt say.Germination rates will have to wait til next month.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 8:49AM
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Dawn covered most of what I would of posted. Burpee is just one that puts less in the packets at Wal-Mart and other places. I have found a couple of others that do.

I've always had good results with Ferry-Morse seeds. I would expect you will also. There are places to buy where you can get better prices. Burpee prices if buying from their site is usually on the high end. I buy Brandyboy, Porterhouse and a few seeds from them. I usually only buy what I can't get else where. They have a few varieties I really like.

If it is an F1 hybrid the breeding should be the same. Like Dawn said most suppliers buy from only a few commercial sources who either produce the seeds or contract with growers. So many times the seeds originate from the same place. Like she said it will vary then how each firm stores, packs and handles the seeds so germination rates can vary. I've noticed very little myself between commercial companies. Just like any other business some charge more or less for a variety of reasons. It can be volume, cost of handling and packaging, desired profit per pack. And when buying online always pay attention to the shipping cost. It sounds like the Telow found are great. I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them if I needed seeds. And everyone on this forum knows I don't. Jay

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 9:09AM
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Thanks for all your insights. That will certainly help me. I tent to buy more seeds but end up in no space for planting or wasting. Recently learn how to cold storage extra seeds. It seems buying small packet could be good option except some unique seeds for sharing with enthusiastic gardening friends and seed swap.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 11:54AM
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