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California important seed supplier

California seed companies generated an estimated $2.9 billion in gross revenue from seed sales worldwide in 2008, according to a UC Davis study. This represents 7.9 percent of the global seed market, researchers found.

This economic analysis was conducted by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, and funded by the California Seed Advisory Board.

About 55 percent of the field crops seed and 31 percent of vegetable seed sold by California seed companies in 2008 was grown in California. In addition, California crops produced from seed accounted for 37 percent of the state’s total $39.1 billion in agriculture production value, according to figures collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The information presented in this report serves as evidence of the importance of California as a supplier of raw seed to U.S. and global agriculture," wrote author William Matthews, postdoctoral scholar of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. "Furthermore, the activities of seed companies in California are a significant source of revenue generation for the state."

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has recorded commercial seed crop production for the past 30 years. Until the 1990s, a majority of seed production was in Fresno, Imperial and Kings counties. From 1990 to 2006, seed production started to shift north, with Colusa, Yolo, Sutter and Glenn counties emerging as important seed crop producing areas. By 2007, the top seed-producing counties in the state were Imperial and Yolo.

"This study presents the first detailed and accurate assessment of the seed industry in California," said Ken Scarlett, chairman of the California Seed Advisory Board and President of Eureka Seeds, Inc. "The results show the importance of seed production to the economy of the state and the global value of California’s industry."

A two-pronged approach was taken to best determine the scope of the industry. A historical analysis was compiled to track the significance of the seed industry in California over the last three decades. Also, the researchers surveyed seed companies to estimate the economic value of seeds produced in California to the state, nation and world.

An executive summary and the full report of "The California Seed Industry: A Measure of Economic Activity and Contribution to California Agriculture" are available at

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