The purpose of seed certification is to preserve varietal purity and identity. It is an official program enabling seed companies to market varietally pure seed. Certification services are available for field crops, turf grasses, vegetables, fruits, vegetatively propagated species, woody plants and forbs.
Once seed has been certified, it qualifies for the official “blue” certified seed label and meets state, federal and international seed law requirements. Certification is a limited generation system based on four seed classes. They are:
- Breeder seed – seed directly controlled by the originating or sponsoring plant breeding organization.
- Foundation seed – the progeny of Breeder or Foundation seed handled to maintain specific varietal purity and identity.
- Registered seed – the progeny of Breeder or Foundation seed handled to maintain satisfactory varietal purity and identity.
- Certified seed – the progeny of Breeder, Foundation or Registered seed handled to maintain satisfactory varietal purity and identity.
The program provides:
- Coordinated, professional and unbiased field inspections and laboratory testing. Many agencies may provide approval of conditioning plants.
- An unbiased record system for use in meeting state, federal and international seed law requirements.
- Seed buyers with assurance that the designated seed has met purity standards related to a known description across seedlots and years of production.
Requirements for producing certified seed include:
- Land requirements – prior crop standards may apply.
- Planting eligible seed stock – seed source proof is mandatory
- Field inspection – random plant counts throughout the field and evaluations of varietal purity determine whether the field is accepted or rejected.
- Seed samples must meet standards based on complete lab analysis – seed testing is based on detailed analysis of a representative, cleaned sample from the seed lot.
- Proper seed labeling – specific requirements apply to analysis and blue certification labels with regard to pure seed, inert matter, other crop, weed seed and germination.