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Botanical Bulletin, Summer 2020

Up-to-date news on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected seed companies in the U.S.

| Summer 2020

Photo by Unsplash/ Christian Joudrey

The novel coronavirus has upended business for our seed company friends. Due to wildly increased demand, many have had to shut down website orders and stop answering phone calls and emails. Four companies answered our questions about the dramatic changes currently affecting their businesses.

When did you realize something was up, and why?

When the National Emergency was declared on Friday, March 13, we experienced a 250 percent surge in visitors to our website, our phones were ringing constantly, and orders came flooding in.

--Joshua D’Errico, Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Nancy began to realize that change was in the air while she was at the Kaw Valley Seed Fair in Lawrence, Kansas, on February 8, 2020, with Cottin’s Hardware & Rental, our first wholesale customer, who was selling our seeds. She read a report of a potential SARS-COV-2 infection in Lawrence the day before the fair. Subsequently, a number of venues we were going to table booths at across the Kansas City Metro area cancelled due to the pandemic. As such venues provided us networking opportunities and a large portion of our sales last year, we began to realize that the market was going to be shifting toward online orders and wholesale sales. Matthew was traveling back from Israel around the same time and became aware that the pandemic was picking up steam as airports began taking action to slow down the spread of the virus. Subsequently, as grocery stores began having shortages of toilet paper and food, we knew that people would start contemplating where and how they would be getting food.

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