Seed certification involves a detailed process to ensure the varietal identity and genetic purity of seed through proper production and handling practices.
Varietal identity is defined as (and limited to) the verification of the identity of a variety or germplasm through documentation of the pedigree and the application of the breeder’s variety description for certain visible, phenotypic traits in fields and seed laboratory analysis.
Genetic purity is defined as (and limited to) the application of the standards for certain phenotypic traits relative to the breeder’s description of the variety/germplasm. Genetic purity should not be interpreted to imply verification of genotype or verification of all described traits.
Requirements for producing certified seed include special land requirements, planting eligible seedstock, field inspections, meeting standards based on complete lab analysis and proper labeling.
Individual state certification agencies may establish their own standards based on individual, local need, but those standards must be at least as stringent as AOSCA standards. For crops where there is no state standard, AOSCA standards are used.
In North Dakota, state certification rules and standards are established based on experience, documented scientific observation from the field, seed and diagnostic lab results and public input.
North Dakota Field Seed Certification Standards are published in Bulletin 51 and available by calling the department.
Minimum certification standards are established by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). The major purposes of AOSCA are to:
- Establish minimum standards for genetic purity and varietal identity and recommend minimum standards for seed quality for certified seed classes
- Standardize seed certification regulations and procedures, and operational procedures in inter-agency certification
- Periodically audit state agency genetic standards and procedures to assure compliance with the Federal Seed Act
- Manage national variety review boards to review and determine variety eligibility for certification