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There is some confusion about the use of the word "Certified" in seed planting specifications. Often the engineer merely wants the seed supplier to certify that the seed has been tested at an official laboratory and that the seed in the bag conforms to the information on the bag tag.

In the seed industry, there is another meaning to the word "Certified." Each state has a Seed Certifying Agency (or Crop Improvement Association) which writes the rules for seed produced in its state. Seed Certification is the means of maintaining the pedigree of a specific variety of seed (such as the named variety 'Goldar,' which is a variety of Bluebunch wheatgrass.) Seed growers voluntarily use seed Certification to assure their customers that extra care has been taken to provide them with correctly identified, genetically pure seed.

The blue Certified seed label identifies seed meeting Certification requirements and thereby assures the seeder of obtaining varietal performance of the variety named on the label.

Each variety is released for propagation because it is deemed superior in one or more characteristics, such as seedling vigor, low dormancy, broad range of adaptability, seed production, form and color, or palatability.

Each grower is responsible for handling their Certifiable seed so that it will also meet the Seed Certifying Agency standards for mechanical purity and germination. Each state law requires that each container of seed be labeled as to its origin, the germination percentage and date of germ test, the percentage by weight of pure seed, other crop seed, weed seed, inert matter, and number and kind of restricted noxious weeds. This label is commonly referred to as an analysis tag. By studying both the Certified and the analysis tags, one can determine the quality of the seed in the container. Blue-tagged Certified seed must meet high purity and germination standards, and have a low weed content (usually less than 0.25%); whereas there are no standards for noncertified seed other than state limits on the weeds (often as high as 2.00%).

In addition to Breeder and Foundation seed, which are sold to growers only, two other classes of Certified seed are recognized:

Registered seed is the progeny of Foundation seed which meets the high field inspection and laboratory requirements for this class. Bagged seed should have a purple tag. Registered seed

is more expensive, and is usually sold to growers.

Certified seed is the progeny of Registered seed. Bagged seed should have a blue tag. Certified seed is affordable, high- quality seed sold for planting by the end user, such as for re-vegetation.

Source-identified seed is collected from natural stands or seed production areas where no selection or testing of the parent population has been made. In this case, the inspector travels to the collection site to verify the species, the collection site, and the pounds collected. A yellow Source-Identified tag assures the buyer that his fourwing saltbush was, for example, collected in Wyoming rather than in New Mexico.

Even though a bag may not have a purple, blue, or yellow tag, it may still contain the variety claimed. A seed lot may fail to be Certified merely because the mechanical purity proves to be slightly lower than the standard for that variety. Or, since Certified seed often does not command a much higher price than common seed, a grower may not go to the trouble and expense of having his field and cleaning plant inspected by the Seed Certifying agency. (In Wyoming, for example, a grower pays $4.00 per acre for inspection.) Some varieties, such as Pryor slender wheatgrass, can be identifed by the seed lab; while other varieties, such as Rosana western wheatgrass, cannot. In the latter case, the integrity of the grower and the seed dealer determine whether the seed is truly the variety claimed on the label. Noncertified seed may come from an old pasture that the rancher recalls his dad planting with such-and-such variety.

Freedom from worry over noxious weeds is another benefit of field inspection. Common or non-cert fields are not walked by the inspector, and a "clear tag" laboratory test will be based on only 25,000 seeds (about 60 grams). A noxious weed missed in the first sample may show up in subsequent samples (if they are taken), often after the seed is in the ground and a costly spray eradication program is the only course remaining. Field inspection greatly reduces the chances of overlooked noxious weed seeds being harvested.

Many seeders already have found that quality seed pays in better establishment and permanence. This trend protects reputable seed companies and encourages growers to produce enough high quality seed to meet the demand.

If you would like to make sure to get quality seed, specify: "Certified, blue-tagged seed shall be supplied where a named variety is specified. Vendor shall indicate on the bid whether Certified or common seed is being offered, as well as the origin of the seed. The blue tags which are removed to mix the seed shall be given to the reclamation engineer; in addition, mix tags showing the weighted averages of the ingredients shall be attached to each bag."



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