Organic Seed Treatment for Spinach Pythium Control

In March 2017, Germains Seed Technology launched ProBio® SafeGuard™, a new addition to Germains’ North America seed health technology category. ProBio® SafeGuard™ is an organic seed treatment for spinach targeting early plant protection against Pythium even before the plant emerges. By providing pre-emergence protection, ProBio® SafeGuard™ establishes a barrier around the emerging plant and the developing root system that helps protect spinach crops against Pythium during germination until the first true leaf stage.

Damping off is a common problem for organic spinach growers. Soil born fungus such as Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Phytophthora, and Fusarium are all diseases that cause symptoms of “damping off” which is characterized by the rotting of plant stems below ground and in some cases in the plant stems above ground. The Pythium species can cause substantial damage and crop loss for organic spinach growers. Pythium disease outbreaks tend to take place during periods of elevated temperatures and high humidity and can spread rapidly in favorable environmental conditions. Pythium infection is identified by loss of seedlings between 0-14 days or by the first true leaf stage of plant growth.

Organic Seed Treatment for Spinach

The only options for organic growers are to plant resistant spinach varieties and implement cultural controls. At this time, there are no known spinach varieties with 100% resistance to Pythium. Pythium may cause significant crop losses resulting in financial losses due to lost yield, disruptions in the supply chain, and may impact product quality. The critical timeframe for Pythium damage to take place is 0 to 14 days after planting. Therefore, Germains R&D Team identified that there might be a viable seed treatment solution to protect plants upon emergence and within the first stages of growth.

Organic Seed Treatment for Spinach Pythium Control

ProBio® SafeGuard™, is a viable seed treatment solution to protect Spinach plants from Pythium upon emergence and within the first stages of growth. ProBio® SafeGuard™ helps to establish a more significant number of plants which may result in higher yields. Cathy Farr, Germains North America Business Director, said, “Pythium and other pathogens related to the Damping Off Complex have a tremendous impact on the organic spinach industry. Pythium alone may cause crop losses that range anywhere from 10% to 40% or at times an even greater amount. I am pleased that our Research and Development Team based in Gilroy, California succeeded in developing an innovative certified organic seed treatment that is a tremendous asset for the organic spinach industry and potentially other crops in the future.” Also, “the development of this new product gave us the opportunity to collaborate through the field trial phase with Holaday Seed Company. Their dedication and support for this project resulted in the establishment of an exclusive distribution agreement with Holaday Seed Company.”

Organic seed treatment for spinach

Since the launch of ProBio® SafeGuard™ in March of 2017, with limited processing capacity over ten thousand acres have been planted with spinach seed organically treated with ProBio® SafeGuard™ and distributed by Holaday Seed Company. Brian Cavalli, General Manager of Holaday Seed Company, explains “The first time we heard that Germains was working with an organically approved chemical and not a biological one, we were very excited to get involved. We knew organic growers were searching for a spinach treatment that would allow them to get a consistently good stand on ground that has high Pythium levels. It has been great to see the product work so well in their fields.”

organic seed treatment for spinach

Construction of New Organic Facility | Germains Seed Technology Gilroy

Due to the success of this new organic seed treatment, Germains recently invested over $7 million in its Gilroy facility for the construction of a new, certified organic automated processing facility to increase the output volumes for ProBio® SafeGuard™ for spinach and to potentially treat other species in the future. When the product was introduced to the market, availability has been limited due to space and capacity restrictions at Germains, Gilroy California location. With the new processing facility scheduled to open before the end of 2018, ProBio® SafeGuard™ will be available to more organic growers throughout the United States.

How to Purchase ProBio® SafeGuard™

For pricing and to place an order for ProBio® SafeGuard™, please contact Holaday Seed Company 831.796.0504 or For more details about this product and other organic seed treatments, please visit

ProBio®SafeGuard™ is protected under Patent No.  62/450,020