Select a variety that has the genetic potential to perform well in your area. Utilize reliable data to help determine which variety to select. Pay close attention to stability over years of testing and don’t rely too heavily on single year data. Learn what trial statistics mean and how they can help you interpret the data. Previous experience with a variety, past sales activity and local demand are also important to consider.
Purchase Foundation or Registered class seed of the variety you plan to certify for sale. Many varieties are protected with Plant Variety Protection certificates or patents. Check the status of protection for the variety.
Keep the bulk certificate or tags that come with the seed. One bulk certificate should accompany each load of bulk certified seed at delivery. Late delivery of tags or bulk certificates by the seller is illegal. A seed tag or bulk certificate is your proof that the seed is eligible for certification and proof must be included with the field inspection application. Applications for field inspection will not be accepted without proper documentation of seed eligibility.
Transport bulk seed with a truck that has been cleaned with a vacuum and/or compressed air. Avoid using trucks with wood-floored boxes since grain can lodge in cracks in the floor and contaminate the seed. Also, check the tarp and tarp equipment for potential contaminants.
Thoroughly clean conveyors or augers. Remove cover panels to get better access to all parts of the conveyor. Reverse and clean augers used to move seed. Handle seed gently to maintain the quality of the seed. Some crops such as soybeans, field peas and edible beans are fragile and damaged easily by rough handling. Long drops into bins, worn auger flighting, and running augers at high speed contribute to seed damage.
If seed is stored before planting, make sure the storage bin/container is clean before placing the seed in the bin. Clean and sweep the bin walls, floor, doors or entry ports. Make sure that any load-out augers are reversed and cleaned before loading seed in the storage bin. As little as four pounds of contaminating grain added to Registered planting seed is enough to ruin a quarter section of Certified seed production. Monitor bins throughout the season to ensure seed does not go out of condition.
Crop rotation is an important tool in managing contamination and seed-borne diseases. Plant Foundation or Registered seed on fields with proper crop rotation. Check the certification standards for crop-specific land and isolation requirements. Ineligible cropping history is a common reason for rejected field applications. Avoid planting small grains back on fields that were planted to small grains the previous year. Avoid planting beans, peas or lentils on fields with the same crop history. You may plant the same variety back on the same field if that field passed inspection by the North Dakota State Seed Department the previous year.
Clean all equipment used for planting including drills/planters, bulk seed handling trucks, augers and seed treating equipment. Use compressed air to clean the frame of all planting equipment to prevent field contamination. Spin double disc openers forward to remove other seed caught in the disc openers. Exercise caution when planting adjacent fields so you don’t contaminate your seed field. Don’t turn around in, or drive across your seed field with a planter full of another crop or variety. Leave an isolation strip between other inseparable crops or another variety of the same crop.
Keep fields clean and make sure they are ready for inspection before the inspector arrives. If an isolation strip was not left at planting, dig up, spray out or mow a minimum five-foot isolation strip between fields to prevent harvest contamination. Isolation distances vary with crops so consult the regulations. Rogue other crop plants and other varieties that can contaminate your seed production. When rouging, be sure to pull the entire plant and remove it from the field so it does not get harvested. Fields with excessive weeds will fail field inspection.
Field inspection is the first step in the certification process and includes an audit of documentation provided by the grower with the application, an examination of the field to determine whether the variety conforms to the breeder’s variety description, and an examination of potential contaminants such as other varieties, other crops or weeds. In some crops, field inspection includes an examination for seed-borne diseases. Field inspection must be completed before the field can be harvested. Failure to do so will eliminate the field and seed from certification.
Harvesting Thoroughly clean all harvest equipment, combines, trucks, tarps, augers, conveyors, legs, and seed storage bins before harvesting and handling field-inspected seed. Reverse and clean all augers used to move seed to prevent contamination. Clean the grain tank and the interior of your combine with air pressure or vacuum. Drop all rock traps and elevator doors and blow out and reverse the feeder house on combines. The grower is responsible for carefully inspecting all custom harvest equipment used to harvest seed fields. Maintain clean, dry storage conditions for field-inspected seed.
Field-inspected seed is not certified or legal for sale until it has passed final certification and tags or bulk certificates are issued. Final certification involves conditioning, sampling, testing at an approved seed lab and grading. Grading involves review of the lab analysis report and supporting documents to determine whether the seed lot meets the minimum standards for the crop and class.
All field-inspected seed that is to be labeled must be conditioned and must meet minimum seed standards for the crop and class. Seed growers have several options for conditioning and marketing their field-inspected seed. Growers may condition their own seed on their premises with their own equipment or use an approved conditioner. Following conditioning, a representative sample of clean seed must be submitted to the Seed Department Seed Lab for testing. If the seed meets the minimum standards for the crop and class, it may then be labeled as certified seed.
For purposes of certification, all seed samples must be tested at the State Seed Department Lab. Seed is tested according to standards and procedures defined by the Basic seed testing includes germination and purity but other tests such as seed count and disease testing may be required for certain crops. See the or pages for details.
According to state law, all agricultural, vegetable, tree, shrub and flower seed sold, offered, exposed, transported or held in storage for sale must be properly labeled. More information on labeling certified seed may be found in the section.
State seed laws prohibit advertising or offering seed for sale as certified seed until final certification is complete and tags or bulk certificates are issued.
Plant Variety Protection
The Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) is a federal law enacted to give variety owners patent-like protection on new varieties and to stimulate research investment in self-pollinated crops like wheat. Most new varieties are protected by Title V, the certified seed option. This means the variety may only be sold as a class of certified seed. Liability for PVP violations extends to the seller, buyer, conditioner and anyone who assists in the unauthorized sale of protected varieties. It is the responsibility of the seller and the buyer to understand PVP laws and limitations.
For more information on seed certification contact the North Dakota State Seed Department.