Expect exciting new veggie varieties in 2021

Source: Penn State Extension

The arrival of the new year’s seed catalogues is one of the most exciting and anticipated times of the year for gardeners. We page through the catalogs, looking for both tried and true edibles as well as new-to-market options. The options are not endless but are truly vast and exciting!

Photo credit: David Henry, Penn State Master Gardener Fulton County

The non-profit organization, All-American Selections (AAS), coordinates vegetable trials across the United States and selects its annual winners from those trials. For more information, visit All-American Selections.

The AAS winners are grouped into three categories: annuals, perennials, and edibles/vegetables. The three edibles/vegetables winners for 2021 are: Shallot, ‘Echalion Creme Brulee’ (BGS-270) F1; Pepper, ‘Pot-a-peno’ F1; and, Squash, ‘Goldilocks’ F1. ‘Echalion Creme Brulee’ is the first-ever shallot to win. AAS winners may be identified in seed company catalogs.

Seed companies, such as Burpee Seeds and Plants, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Fedco Seeds, Tozer Seeds, and Ball Seed, offer their own “new” seeds and plants for the growing year. These products are highlighted in their catalogs and have been grown and tested by the seed companies. Each seed company has its own protocol for testing new vegetables and the protocol is usually explained in the catalog. According to the “Goddess of Dirt”, there are 111 seed companies in the United States.

If you are searching online, the easiest way to find the new varieties is to simply search “new vegetables for 2021”. From this search, you can hone in on one or more attributes. For instance, you can search for plants for your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Use this link if to find your zone:

John Esslinger, Penn State Extension Horticulture Educator, has been growing and conducting research on vegetables for many years. “Many of the new varieties offer unique characteristics like unusual colors, disease resistance, or size," said Esslinger. "They may not be superior in other characteristics like flavor, yield, or other fruit quality characteristics. So, if a gardener is looking for something unique, they offer that. If they are looking for good reliable varieties, many of the varieties that have been around a few years are still great choices, such as ‘Candy’ onions, ‘Valentine’ cherry tomatoes, mildew resistant cucumbers, and pumpkins, etc.”

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