Steps to Certify or Produce Pure Seed

All seed production starts with the seed producer. In agriculture no two years are the same. A seasoned seedsman understands how environment influences seed quality and will manage accordingly. Seed is a living organism, an example of one of the small miracles in this world. If it weren’t alive it wouldn’t grow. It is also has unique characteristics based on it’s genetics. This makes all harvesting, handling, storage, and conditioning very important to preserve it’s quality and purity. Extra care is taken in all of these areas for seed production. Following are some of the basic steps to produce Certified seed.

  1. Purchase Foundation seed.
  2. Field History – Seed should not be produced on fields with a history of other varieties, weeds, or other inseparable crop which cannot be controlled by herbicides or seed cleaning equipment.
  3. Planting – Planters should be clean of other varieties/commercial seed. Fields should be identified with the variety and where planting started.
  4. Isolation – Fields should be isolated from other varieties and other inseparable crops to prevent contamination. Isolation standards range from 6 feet to 1320 feet depending on the crop and class of seed. Where there is inadequate isolation, portions of seed fields will be omitted.
  5. Fertilizer – Special care should be taken to not contaminate seed from fertilizer application. Contamination can occur from the use of bulk fertilizer spreaders that have not been cleaned adequately.
  6. Management – Special care should be given to control weeds and diseases which might affect seed quality (e.g. black nightshade in soybeans or quackgrass in oats). For problems that might escape, it is the producer’s responsibility to maintain the genetic purity sometimes resulting in roguing fields.
  7. Field Inspection – Application will be made for inspection. MCIA field inspectors will evaluate the field at a time when varietal characteristics are expressed. Inspectors will inspect for varietal purity, off-types, other crop, weeds, and diseases. Where contamination occurs, producers will be required to omit areas isolated by the inspector.
  8. Harvest – All equipment used in harvesting, transporting, and storage (e.g. bins, combine, trucks, conveyers, and grain legs or elevators) will be clean of other varieties and contaminating crop.
  9. Seed Cleaning – Seed will be processed to remove inert, weeds, and poor quality seed.
  10. Seed Testing – A representative sample (five pounds for most crops) shall be sent to MCIA seed lab for laboratory analysis. Testing will be performed to determine: germination under ideal conditions (warm germ), seed vigor, and purity analysis (varietal and physical). For certification, seed is not officially certified until it meets both field and lab standards.
  11. Seed Labeling – The Federal Seed Act requires all seed sold in the United States to be labeled with:
    1. Vendor/Address
    2. Origin
    3. Variety/Kind
    4. Lot number
    5. Weeds/Noxious weeds
    6. Inert
    7. Other Crop
    8. Germination/Hard Seed
    9. Date of testing
    10. Weight

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