An early machine, circa
1960. Built for the
Dept. of UC-Davis
Another early machine
The large machine currently manufactured
History of the Millett Wet Vegetable Seed Separator
The development of the Millett Wet Vegetable Seed Separator truly illustrates the old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Soon after Archie Millett began working in the Vegetable Crops Department of the University of California – Davis in November 1956, he was asked to remove the seeds from several bags of very hot peppers. The oils from these peppers permeated his hands and caused a severe burning sensation which lasted for several days. After this experience, Archie told Dr. Paul Smith, the professor in charge of the research, that there had to be a better way to collect the seed from these peppers.
Archie credits a combination of inspiration, perspiration and knowledge of farm machinery for the ideas which went into the first prototype of the seed separator. He fashioned a crude beater system out of some scrap metal, a large tin can and solder. After attaching an electric motor to power the beater system, he dropped in some peppers. The first trial lead to a shower of pepper pulp and seeds flying everywhere, but Archie could see the potential and continued working on the invention. Most of his spare time during 1957 was spent modifying the beater assembly and attaching a shaking screen to separate the pepper pulp from the seeds.
One day in 1958, as Archie was processing some peppers at the University, Dr. Jack Hanna, who did research with tomatoes, asked if he could try putting some tomatoes through the seed separator. The trial with tomatoes was an astounding success. Although the University of California - Davis initially had the rights to pursue a patent on the machine, they declined and Archie Millett was given the permission to pursue whatever opportunities were available.
The fruit and vegetable growers of central California often came to the university to find out what was new in the research conducted there. Later in 1958, a representative from Gentry Dehydrators of Oxnard, California saw the seed separator in action and wanted to purchase one. From this humble beginning, the Millett Wet Vegetable Seed Separator has become the must have tool for anyone interested in harvesting the seed from peppers, tomatoes, egg plant, etc. During the past 60 plus years, Millett Seed Separators have been shipped all over the United States and into over fifty countries on six continents around the world.
Since 2005, the manufacture of the Millett Wet Vegetable Seed Separator has been under the management of Archie’s daughter, Becky Millett Maas, of Orem, Utah, USA. At A.G.E. Manufacturing LLC, we are committed to continuing the legacy of this unique machine and helping to feed the world by harvesting as much seed as is possible.