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Taking terumot and ma’aserot from seeds

Question

I grow several vegetables in my garden such as string beans, peas, and potatoes. Sometimes I take all or some of the seeds to plant the next round of crops in my garden.

1) Am I supposed to take ma’aser from the seeds before planting, or does ma’aser only apply to edible produce?

2) If there is an obligation of taking ma’aser at this point, do I need to take ma’aser from seeds I buy at a nursery?

 

Answer

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

In general, industrial seeds that are sold in stores and nurseries are not edible so they are not subject to the obligation of taking terumot and ma’aserot before planting them; terumot and ma’aserot would only be taken from the vegetables once they are fully grown and harvested. 

However, in the present case where you harvest a potato from your garden (and have not yet taken terumot and ma’aserot), and you take the eyes and plant them, the halacha is different. Since the potato eyes are edible, if planted before terumot and ma’aserot are taken, the potatoes that eventually grow from them assume the status of “teruma crops” (gidulei teruma), and are forbidden for consumption even if teruma is taken from them at harvest.

Of course, if terumot and ma’aserot are taken from the original potato before the eyes are removed, there is no need to take terumot and ma’aserot again once upon removing the eyes and before planting them in the ground.

If you remove the eyes before taking terumot and ma’aserot from the original potato, then yes, you should take terumot and ma’aserot from the eyes before planting them.