How seeds are labeled for a farmer’s purchase


When planning their successful farming enterprise, farmers often start with buying high-quality seeds. Before even reaching the marketplace, seeds go through inspection and then are labeled. Labeling seeds must also follow all state and federal guidelines. The Sustainable, Secure Food blog explains the classifications of seeds. This post is part of the 2021 Seed Week celebration, organized by the Crop Science Society of America

According to writer Arron Carter, there are five different classifications of seed that can occur:

  • Breeder Seed. It is derived from the plant breeding program itself. When plant breeders develop a new cultivar, they often only have limited amounts of seed. This first step in the process allows the plant breeder to increase the quantity of seed produced.
  • Foundation Seed. This level of seed typically comes after Breeder Seed and is the highest purity classification. Foundation Seed would look most like Breeder Seed in terms of genetic purity. It has strict requirements for purity, including low or zero tolerance for Foundation Seed bins to be contaminated with weed seed, seed of other market classes, and seed of other crops.
  • Registered Seed. Seed companies usually plant this high-quality Foundation Seed to produce Registered Seed. Registered Seed keeps high purification standards but is a step down from what was seen in Foundation Seed.
  • Certified Seed. It is produced after planting Registered Seed and is the certification class that most farmers would buy if they wanted a high-quality seed source.
  • Common Seed. Seed that has not gone through the certification process is often referred to this. Common Seed is held to no standard other than basic seed labeling laws. It is sold ‘as is’ and could have mixtures of other crops, market classes, or weed seeds.

To learn more about the classifications of seed, you can read the entire blog here.

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