Seed package abbreviations are an integral part of successful gardening. This array of “alphabet soup” letters are instrumental in helping gardeners choose varieties of plants which are likely to succeed in their backyards. Exactly what do these codes on seed packets mean though? Better yet, how do we use these seed abbreviations to grow a more prolific garden?
Understanding Terms on Seed Packages
The consistent use of terminology is a goal of most industries. It helps customers select products with features they most desire. Due to the limited space on seed packets and in catalog descriptions, seed companies typically rely on one to five letter seed abbreviations to convey important information about their products.
These seed packet codes can tell gardeners which varieties are first generation hybrids (F1), whether the seeds are organic (OG), or if the variety is an All-America Selection winner (AAS). More importantly, the codes on seed packets can tell gardeners whether or not that variety of plant has natural resistance or tolerance to pests and disease.
“Resistance” and “Tolerance” Seed Packet Codes
Resistance is a plant's natural immunity which impedes attacks from a pest or disease, while tolerance is the plant's ability to recover from these attacks. Both these qualities benefit plants by improving survivability and increasing yields.
Many seed package abbreviations refer to a variety's resistance or tolerance to disease and pests. Here are some of the most common pest and disease resistance/tolerance terms on seed packages and in seed catalog descriptions:
- A – Anthracnose
- AB – Early blight
- AS – Stem canker
- BMV– Bean mosaic virus
- C – Cercospora virus
- CMV – Cucumber mosaic virus
- CR – Clubroot
- F — Fusarium wilt
- L – Gray leaf spot
- LB – Late blight
- PM – Powdery mildew
- R – Common Rust
- SM – Smut
- TMV – Tobacco mosaic virus
- ToMV – Tomato mosaic virus
- TSWV – Tomato spotted wilt virus
- V – Verticillium wilt
- ZYMV – Zucchini yellow mosaic virus
- B – Bacterial wilt
- BB – Bacterial blight
- S– Scab
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Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.