To successfully produce certified seed, producers must understand the following Federal Seed Act requirements.

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Variety Eligibility

Only eligible varieties may be certified. Eligibility requirements are prescribed in the Federal Seed Act Regulations 201.68, which requires the originator, developer or owner of the variety to provide the following information when certification of a variety is requested.

  1. The name of the variety. This name must be the established name if the variety has previously been marketed.
  2. A statement concerning the origin of the variety and the breeding procedure used in its development.
  3. A detailed description of the morphological, physiological, and other characteristics of the plants and seed that distinguish it from other varieties.
  4. Evidence supporting the identity of the variety, such as comparative yield data, insect and disease resistance, or other factors.
  5. A statement delineating the geographic area or areas of adaptation.
  6. A statement on the plans and procedures for the maintenance of seed classes, including the number of generations through which the variety may be multiplied.
  7. A description of the manner in which the variety is constituted when a particular cycle of reproduction or multiplication is specified.
  8. Any additional restrictions on the variety, specified by the breeder, with respect to geographic area of seed production, age of stand, or other factors affecting genetic purity.
  9. A sample of seed representative of the variety that will be planted for certified seed production.

A variety will normally be accepted as eligible for certification after favorable action by:

  • a national variety review board (AOSCA)
  • plant variety protection office (with additional information)
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • an official seed certification agency

Regardless of the method by which a variety is accepted for certification, the Federal Seed Act requirements must be satisfied. The Plant Variety Protection certificate does not contain all of the information required, even if Title V option requiring certification was selected. It will satisfy items a through d. However, variety owners or breeders must still provide additional information to satisfy e through i.

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Grower Eligibility

Any person is eligible to produce Registered or Certified class seed providing such seed is produced, handled, and distributed in accordance with applicable North Dakota certification rules and seed laws. In some cases, the variety owner may restrict the production and sale of certified seed to specific licensees. The state seed commissioner reserves the right to reject any application for certification or refuse certification on any seed lot if essential evidence is incomplete, if information given is incorrect, or if circumstances indicate that it would be advisable for the good of the certified seed industry.

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Eligibility of Seed Classes and Sources

Recognized Classes of Certified Seed

  1. Breeder seed is directly controlled by the originating plant breeder, sponsoring institution or company, which supplies the source for the initial and recurring increase of Foundation seed.
  2. Foundation seed is the progeny of Breeder or Foundation seed produced under control of the originator or sponsoring plant breeding institution, or designated representative. 
  3. Registered seed is the progeny of Foundation or other approved seedstocks. This class of seed shall be of a quality suitable for the production of Certified seed.
  4. Certified seed is the progeny of Foundation, Registered, or other approved seed stocks handled to maintain genetic identity and purity and has been approved by the state seed department.


Limitation of Generations

The number of generations which a variety may be multiplied shall be limited to that specified by the originating breeder or owner of a variety, but shall not exceed two generations beyond Foundation seed with the following exceptions.

Unlimited recertification of the Certified class may be permitted when Foundation seed is not being maintained. The production of an additional generation of the Certified class may be permitted on a one-year basis when:

  • An emergency is declared prior to the planting season by the certifying agency stating that Foundation and Registered seed supplies are not adequate to plant the needed Certified acreage of the variety.
  • Permission of the originating breeder or owner of the variety is obtained (if applicable).
  • The additional generation of Certified seed produced to meet the emergency is declared ineligible for recertification.
  • Seed that fails to meet the certification standards for reasons other than those affecting genetic purity may be certified in emergencies and will be labeled with a “substandard grade” tag.
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Seedstock Eligibility

Eligible seedstocks have met the requirements for Foundation, Registered, or in special cases, approved lots of the Certified class. Eligible seed obtained from another seed grower must be accompanied by the official bulk certificate or tag issued by an approved certifying agency. Proof of eligibility will be required with the application for field inspection. 

Certified seed growers may plant seed harvested from their own fields which passed field inspection in previous years if the class of seed is eligible to be certified. Carryover reports must be filed annually. Certified seed growers may not plant seed from their own fields that failed field inspection previously due to genetic purity.  

Growers should check with the Seed Department regarding approved lots of the Certified class that may be eligible for recertification. Recertification is only permitted with approval from the Seed Department and authorization of the variety owner.

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Field Eligibility

A crop will not be eligible for the production of Foundation, Registered, or Certified classes of seed if planted on land on which the same kind of crop was grown previously for the number of years stated in the specific crop standards. Exceptions will be made if the previous crop was the same variety and passed field inspection for certification.

A grower may establish field eligibility history for the following year by planting certified seed on the field, requesting field inspection, and having the field declared eligible in the following year for production of seed of the same variety.