Our Company

More Than40Years of


Excellence

Our Facilities

Salinas,
California

Woodland, California

Morgan Hill,
California

Pacific
Northwest

Fort Myers,
Florida

Yuma,
Arizona

Guadalajara,
Mexico

Culiacan,
Mexico

El Tejar,
Guatemala

Our Story

Sakata Seed America was established in 1977 as a research, production and sales division of Sakata Seed Corporation. Headquartered in Morgan Hill, California, we have facilities across the country. Our goal is to quickly and efficiently meet the industry's needs for quality seed, strong performance and excellent yields, as well as retail and consumer demand for delicious fruit and vegetables. Today, we continue to challenge ourselves to be the industry leader for innovation, quality, reliability and service.

Watermelon field

Our Story

Today, the Sakata name has become one of the major international symbols of comprehensive customer support and products that meet diversified customer needs. Our broccoli and pansies, for example, maintain an overwhelming share of the global market and attest to our position as a formidable leader in the seed industry.

By making full use of the climate and environmental conditions in various regions around the world, we are able to develop new varieties ideally suited to a wide range of environments. These facilities feature advanced equipment for top-level research and development, including biotechnology.

Up close image of orange peppers

Our Story

Sakata Seed Corporation, headquartered in Yokohama, Japan became the first Japanese company to export seed and has since been actively involved in the development of new and improved plant varieties around the world. Sakata’s overseas activities have earned it a reputation for quality in over 130 countries.

Sakata office with flowers

What People are Saying

I have grown Sakata’s Yellow Buttercup watermelon for years and have used many different pollinators. This year I used Sakata’s SWD8732 and SWD8585 and saw a significant increase in fruit set and overall yield versus when I used a competitor’s variety to pollinate my Yellow Buttercups.

Greg House
Omega, Georgia

Bold Ruler sets fruit earlier than any variety I’ve used in the past. This was our second year growing it and we will net around 80,000 lbs per acre after several harvest trips across the field. In my 32 years of growing watermelons, I’ve never had a variety perform like this one. We are going to continue Bold Ruler on our farm.

Charles W. Patterson
Patterson Farms
Omega, Georgia

We tried Citation because we wanted a 60-count watermelon in our program. It exceeded our yield expectations. It’s a dense watermelon that gets a concentrated uniform fruit set and packs out beautifully. Citation is early enough that we even saved a couple of spray trips and some money. Any time we can keep money on the farm is a good thing.

Broc Moore
Southern Acres Farms
Lenox, Georgia

I planted Bold Ruler and Affirmed on part of my acreage. I liked what we saw. They have a place in my rotation with other varieties.

John F. Davis
D & D Farms
Lenox, Georgia

We trialed Alaniz Gold melon from Sakata in 2012 and were very impressed with size yield and quality!! We were so happy that we decided to make it the main variety in our program!

Jacob and David Mendrin
JND Farms, Inc.
Fresno, California

This year we replaced some acreage with Atlantis cantaloupe and were tickled to death with the results. We had better yields, size and sugar. Atlantis will see a lot more acreage next year.

Alan Parrish
Sweet Dixie Melon Company
Ty Ty, Georgia

We had five varieties from three companies this season, and Charismatic stood out the most across the board – from quality, tonnage and earliness, and it held its size across multiple harvests.

Dustin Blank
FF Produce/The Farm
Estero, Florida

This was my first year growing Bold Ruler watermelon. I really liked how it set fruit six to seven days earlier than my other varieties. The yield was as good as the other melons and there were no quality problems. I will be growing Bold Ruler next year.

Lee Norman
D&L Produce
Moultrie, Georgia

We trialed Sakata watermelons in 2010 and in 2011 took a longer look at Citation, Affirmed and Bold Ruler. We split our production in 2012 with all three varieties because each fits a need we have. We can tailor our plantings to meet whatever need we have. We can be early or main season. We can plant more Affirmed if we want a few more 36-counts; or Bold Ruler for 45-counts; or Citation for more 60-counts, and still get the yields and quality we need and expect.

Buck Moore
Southern Acres Farms
Lenox, Georgia

Alaniz Gold was an exciting find for Westside Produce. Early in its life cycle we took interest in both its size and yield potential and added it to our program in 2012. We intend to make it a bigger part of our planting schedule and are encouraged by its long-term viability.

S. Garrett Patricio
Westside Produce
Firebaugh, CA

COMPANY MILESTONES

A Note from our President and CEO, Dave Armstrong

A century in business matters. Sakata has survived world wars, economic crises and natural disasters to continuously create new standards in global vegetable and ornamental markets. In a marketplace characterized by intensive consolidation, Sakata stands as a symbol of independence, innovation and reliability. A century of business matters to Sakata staff, who have shown their commitment through decades of dedication. It matters to our customers, who have become partners, supporting Sakata genetics over these many years, while realizing value in their businesses from our innovation. On this momentous occasion, we express our deep appreciation to all of Sakata’s stakeholders.

Dave Armstrong signature

1913

1930

1966

1972

1972

1977

1979

1985

1988

1990

1993

1994

2000

2001

2005

2006

2010

2012

2014

2015

2017

2018

2019

1913

The company’s founder, Takeo Sakata, founded Sakata Noen.

1930

The Chigasaki Breeding station in Japan was established. Research and development over a wide range of varieties began.

1966

World’s first commercial hybrid pansy Majestic Giants, bred by Sakata, receives an All-America Selections award.

1972

The Sakata broccoli presence was enhanced with the introduction of hybrid broccoli Green Duke, opening the door for other market-leading varieties.

1972

Co-operation began with Northrup King, ALF Christianson Seed Company (ACS) and other companies for U.S. sales and global production needs.

1977

Sakata Seed America, Inc. was established. The first office was located in downtown San Francisco, California, and was staffed by a small team of dedicated employees.

1979

Hideo Takahashi arrived in San Francisco at Sakata Seed America. There was only one person in the small office downtown founded on the principle of “local” production.

1985

Grand opening of the first Research Station in the U.S. in Salinas, California.

1988

Grand opening of Sakata Seed America Headquarters in Morgan Hill, California.

1990

Sakata Seed Corporation listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section. Grand opening of Production/Research Station in Yuma, Arizona.

1993

Sakata Seed de Mexico (SMX) was established.

1994

Grand opening of Research Station in Ft. Myers, Florida.

2000

Sakata Seed de Guatemala (SGU) was established.

2001

ALF Christianson Seed Company (established in 1926) became a subsidiary of Sakata.

2005

Milestone: Impatiens SunPatiens®

2006

Ground-breaking new series SunPatiens® wins The Home Depot Most Innovative New Product award.

2010

Established Sakata America Holding Company, Inc.

2012

Milestone: Infinite Gold LSL Melon.

2014

Sakata launches new stable of hybrid triploid watermelon genetics, including: Charismatic, Kingman, Secretariat and Unbridled.

2015

Introduced broccoli hybrids, Diamante and Millennium. SunPatiens® Spreading Shell Pink is the inaugural vegetative plant from cuttings to receive the AAS Flower Award.

2017

Sakata Seed America Celebrated 40 years of business in North America! Profusion Red Zinnia announced AAS Winner.

2018

Grand Opening of Woodland Innovation Center in Woodland California.

2019

SDG Project: Corporate Sustainability Plan

Sakata breeder

Meet our Breeders

Spinach Breeder

Bill Johnson

Spinach Breeder

Bill Johnson

Sweet Pepper Breeder

Brian Just

Sweet Pepper Breeder

Brian Just

Saladette Tomato Breeder

Jeremy Sisson

Saladette Tomato Breeder

Jeremy Sisson

Brassica Breeder

Yuto Iida

Brassica Breeder

Yuto Iida

Melon Breeder

Mark Frahm

Melon Breeder

Mark Frahm

Lettuce Breeder

Miguel Macias Gonzalez

Lettuce Breeder

Miguel Macias Gonzalez

Pathologist

Sierra Hartney

Dr. Sierra Hartney

Pathologist

Sierra Hartney

Education: 

Ph.D. – Plant Pathology, Oregon State University
M.S. – Plant Pathology, Washington State University
B.S. – Biological Sciences, Central Washington University

Years of Service at Sakata: 2012 – Present

Pathology Roles: Breeder support, Production and Sales support, Seed pathology

What inspired you to be a plant pathologist?

I have always been close to nature and the outdoors.  Growing up in rural Eastern Washington and having parents who loved the outdoors and gardening, I developed an early appreciation for plants.  It was during my undergraduate microbiology studies that I realized that plants must get sick too. Being a Plant Pathologist allows me to explore my love of microorganisms and agriculture.

What is the best/your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy seeing the progression a vegetable variety takes, starting with disease screens to develop resistance to a key pathogen ending with the release of the variety with the resistance claim that will benefit the grower.

What specifically do you like about Sakata Seed America?

Sakata is involved in all aspects of the vegetable seed it sells to provide its customers and employees with expert information at all stages of development.

Can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you?

I find etymology fascinating.  Looking into the origins of a word and what it means is a great puzzle.

Hot Pepper Breeder

Benito Juarez

Benito Juarez

Hot Pepper Breeder

Benito Juarez

Education
M.S. – Horticulture, UC Davis
B.S. – Agronomy and Plant Breeding, UASLP, Mexico

Years of Service at Sakata: 2014 to Present

Currently Breeding:  Hot Peppers

Benito, what led you to decide to become a vegetable breeder?

I started in the “seed Industry” working for Asgrow Seed Company as PD & Sales representative. I also worked for Petoseed Seed Company as PD and R&D Station Manager. While working for these two seed companies I spent numerous hours in the field working with plant breeders and I thought their job was fascinating. I learned that as a vegetable breeder we could manipulate a plant’s DNA to make it more resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. A vegetable Plantbreeder can also improve the yields, adaptation, and nutritional value of crops. To be able to contribute and improve the quality of life of growers and consumers by practicing vegetable breeding inspired me to go back to school and learn the Science behind plant breeding.

What’s the best part of your job?

I enjoy my work very much and more so in a great working environment such as Sakata. I would say the best part is to create and develop lines and making new hybrid combinations and introducing them in our target markets. Spending time in the field observing and evaluating several hundred plants if not even thousands of them to find the most ideal genetic combination has to be one of the best parts of my job.

Sakata recently celebrated 40 years of business in NAFTA – Do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?

I am very proud of being part of the company. I have always admired and respected the image, prestige and reputation. While working for Asgrow and Peto I knew about Sakata, which has for the longest time being the dominant leader in Brassica crops specifically broccoli. Over time the Company has grown in many other different segments and that is a good sing of a successful company. I like that many Sakata employees have been with the Company for more than 20, 25, or even 30 years. I would say that speaks very highly of the Management Team and the company’s philosophy.

Briefly, can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you!

Working at Sakata as the Hot Pepper Breeder kind of closes the circle. I started my plant breeding career working with hot peppers. Like several professionals at the time, I did a lot of scouting for landraces of hot peppers in Mexico that I gave to one of my very good professional friends. Then, for my Master’s dissertation, I worked in CMS in peppers. I went to breed watermelons for many years and now being back in hot peppers is like a dream come through. I am not planning on stopping plant breeding perhaps until I die. Plant breeding is my passion.

Tomato Breeder

David Wolff

Dr. David Wolff

Tomato Breeder

David Wolff

Education:

Ph.D. - Horticulture/Genetics, North Carolina State University
M.S. - Horticultural Science, Virginia Tech
B.S. - Horticulture, The Pennsylvania State University

Years of Service at Sakata: 1998 to Present

Currently Breeding: Tomato

David, why did you decide to become a vegetable breeder?

I had a passion for plants from a young age, having collected and cultivated everything from cacti and succulents to carnivorous plants. In college I had a professor who was a flower breeder which sparked my interest in plant breeding. His passion for his specialty that combined multiple scientific disciplines (genetics, horticulture, pathology, statistics) along with creativity (visual selections, designing new hybrid varieties) really captured me. I love the union of plants, science, and creativity that plant breeding involves. I spent time in academia pursuing the science of plant breeding, but really found my home after coming to Sakata, where I can focus on creating new vegetable varieties that will benefit both growers and consumers.

What inspires you, and what’s the best part of your job?

What inspires me and what I enjoy most of in my job is participating in the complete development and creation of a new variety. This begins by designing and evaluating multiple populations and is followed by multiple years of parent selection and development in the field. Finally, the process ends with the final stages of hybrid design and evaluation of the final product. Years of sweat and mental energy go into the creation of a hybrid, and less than 1% of your creations will make it to a commercial variety. The journey to create and discover those rare ‘diamonds’ inspires me and drives me to continue the process each season, which always brings new challenges and opportunities.

Recently we celebrated our Centennial Anniversary – do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?

Sakata represents to me the best of agribusiness. For 100 years it has been a company with clear focus to pursue its core purpose-providing superior flower and vegetable varieties to its customers. It has done this through hard work and commitment to people, both its employees and customers. I appreciate being involved with a proven, successful global leader in seed that still maintains the culture and atmosphere of a family.

Briefly, can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you!

I consider myself an amateur audiophile and enjoy listening to diverse music, attending live concerts, and collecting excellent headphones. I also do audio mixing and enjoy learning about the benefits of sound and music for optimal health.

David Wolff was also an assistant professor in Vegetable Breeding at Texas A&M University.

Beet Breeder

Laura Ann Diehl

Photo of Dr. Laura Ann Diehl standing in radish field

Beet Breeder

Laura Ann Diehl

Education:

Ph.D.—Plant Breeding, Texas A&M University
M.S.—Entomology, Texas A&M University
B.S.—Biological Sciences, Clemson University

Years of Service at Sakata: 2015 - Present

Currently Breeding: Beets & Pumpkins

What inspired you to be a vegetable breeder?

I’ve always been very interested in working with living things, particularly plants and insects. Growing up, my parents taught us about the natural world and encouraged curiosity and creativity. I studied entomology during my masters and through that was introduced to the agricultural sciences. I became interested in plant breeding as a way to work on something very applied, while still being able to study what first drew me to science, biology and understanding how living things fit together.

What’s the best/your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy the creativity of plant breeding. Making and evaluating new hybrids is the best part of my job.

What specifically do you like about Sakata Seed America?

Sakata has a close-knit and supportive atmosphere that makes it a great place to work.

Can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you?

I’m a hobbyist entomologist and enjoy collecting and rearing insects.

Carrot Breeder

Nick Dragoescu

Dr. Nick Dragoescu

Carrot Breeder

Nick Dragoescu

Education:

Ph.D. - Genetics and Plant Breeding, Penn State University

Years of Service at Sakata: 1991 to Present

Currently Breeding: Carrot and Squash

 Nick, when did your passion for breeding start?

I grew up on a farm helping my grandfather with amateur field-corn breeding. I chose to study agriculture in college and got a summer internship assisting a wheat breeder with biometric data collection. Those early experiences solidified my interest in plant breeding and upon graduation, I looked for jobs as a vegetable breeder.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of being a breeder is that the end result – a better vegetable – is needed and appreciated by people everywhere. Making improvements to a vegetable is a process that has utility and meaning that extends to consumers everywhere. It gives me great satisfaction to think of people enjoying healthy, delicious nutrition thanks to my work.

Recently Sakata celebrated 40 years of business in NAFTA – Do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?

I consider myself very fortunate to work for a company with such a strong commitment to research and innovation. Sakata is always looking for ways to develop and deliver outstanding vegetable varieties to growers worldwide.

Watermelon Breeder

Nihat Guner

Dr. Nihat Guner

Watermelon Breeder

Nihat Guner

Education:

Ph.D. - Horticulture - Plant Breeding and Genetics, Minor: Genetics, North Carolina State University
M.S. – Horticulture - Plant Breeding and Genetics, Oregon State University

Years of Service at Sakata: 2004 to Present

Currently Breeding: Watermelon

Nihat, what inspired you to become a vegetable breeder?

Well, I grew up in a big city in Turkey and there was not much in the way of agricultural activities around me, but there was a cemetery across from our apartment. At certain times of the year, especially during religious celebrations, people visited their loved ones’ graves. Kids of my age (8-12 years-old) were paid to clean weeds that were growing around the cemetery and water the roses or trees around it. My passion for plants started while I cared for the plants in the graveyard. Later on when I went to college at Ankara University, genetic classes were my favorite. I am inspired by making selections and crosses. I can make my own cultivar and make people happier through better tasting fruits and vegetables.

What inspires you and what’s the best part of your job?

Making people happy makes me happy. Two things energize me about my job: making better tasting and higher yielding crops. Better tasting crops make people happy and they enjoy what they eat. Higher yielding crops make them more available, giving people better access to that crop.

Continuous excitement and surprises are the best part of my job. There is no limit to how much you can improve on the quality and the yield of a crop. Therefore, there are continuous opportunities for improvement. Secondly, each selection and hybrid cross may result in numerous surprises since you often get more than what you expect!

Recently Sakata celebrated 40 years of business in NAFTA – Do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?

I share many common values with Sakata, the most important one being passion. We both have passion to breed for excellence. Sakata gives me the best working atmosphere to fulfill my passion and breed for excellence. That’s why Sakata is my first employer and hopefully my only employer.

Briefly, can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you?

When I was kid, watermelon was my favorite crop as well as today. However, I did not like to eat watermelon with seeds. I always had to take out all the seeds before I eat a piece of watermelon. Now I am thinking God made me a watermelon breeder for a reason.

Nihat participated in a national horticulture scholarship exam held by the Turkish Ministry of Education in 1995. Thousands of students from all across the country took the exam and Nihat placed second. He put that scholarship to good use and furthered his education in the U.S.

Nihat is the global research and development head for watermelon and senior watermelon breeder at Sakata.

Baby Leaf Beet, Chard & Pumpkin Breeder

Jenna Price

Jenna Price

Baby Leaf Beet, Chard & Pumpkin Breeder

Jenna Price

Education
M.S. – Plant Breeding, Iowa State University
B.S. – Agronomy, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Years of Service at Sakata: 2012 to Present

Currently Breeding:  Baby Leaf Beet and Swiss Chard

Jenna, what led you to decide to become a vegetable breeder?

Since growing up on my family’s farm in Minnesota I have always been drawn to agriculture. After a trip to Central America in college I realized there was so much more to the world’s agriculture than corn and soybeans and I set out to learn about it. Vegetable breeding is a great way to see what and how people grow things all over the world.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job as a plant breeder is the amount of creativity I get to employ to solve problems. The best part of my job at Sakata is the people I get to work with on a daily basis.

Sakata recently celebrated 40 years of business in NAFTA – Do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?

Sakata’s entrepreneurial spirit makes it a place that fosters people to build innovation. Combining that with Sakata’s emphasis on philanthropy makes this a company I am proud to work for.

Briefly, can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you!

I’m pretty fluent in German from spending a year in Cologne when I was in college.

Radish Breeder

Naoki Yaya

Naoki Yaya

Radish Breeder

Naoki Yaya

Education:

M.S. - Plant Breeding, Iowa State University
B.S. – Plant Biotechnology, UC Davis
B.A. - Comparative Literature, UC Davis
Postgraduate Certificate - Plant Breeding Academy, UC Davis

Years of Service at Sakata: 2007 to Present

Currently Breeding: Radish and Collard

=Naoki, why did you decide to become a vegetable breeder?

I didn’t decide to become a vegetable breeder until I became one! As a new breeder, I had opportunities to expand our existing programs to better suit our company’s growing needs. It has been an exhilarating experience, and I am officially hooked.

What’s the best part of your job?

Vegetable breeding is never boring. I plan and plant nurseries, apply pesticides, pollinate and harvest. I also travel, evaluate trials, and talk with growers, seed dealers as well as sales and production. I try to make varieties that everyone will be happy with. It is an ongoing process. The many facets of this job drive me crazy sometimes, but I love what I do.

Recently Sakata celebrated 40 years of business in NAFTA - Do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?

Sakata is a fun place to work. Everyone has a lot of work to do, and yet they are more than willing to help if we need it. It is a kind of workplace that I feel safe in and I appreciate the support given to me by my colleagues.

Briefly, can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you!

I have a license as a Pest Control Advisor in California. I help with pesticide related decisions and safety programs in Salinas.

ALLIED BUSINESSES

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