Seed- Frequently Asked Questions

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 What is Pedigreed seed?
There are different levels of seed in the pedigreed seed system:
  • Foundation
  • Registered
  • Certified
Within each level are grades that govern germination, purity, and the degree of association to the parental lines.

Is certified seed weed free?
The grades of certified seed differ in the types and amounts of weed seeds allowed. Request a certificate of analysis. This document will define the purity, germination, and what weeds are present in your seed lot. All grain sold as seed falls under the Seed Act, and under the act all seed sellers must be able to provide a certificates of analysis in a reasonable amount of time.

Is commercial seed better than certified seed?
Commercial seed is also called common seed, and it cannot be sold under a variety name. Any grain produced from certified seed is considered common seed. Certified seed is superior to common seed because it is close to the original parents and will have the agronomic traits of the variety. Certified seed also has higher standards for purity and germination.

What are plant breeder’s rights and how do they affect me?
Plant Breeders Rights are like a patent on the variety. Any variety grown that has plant breeders rights associated with them cannot be sold as seed. Producers can retain and use their own seed for production as long as they do not sell it for seed.

Can I use my own grain for seed?
In most cases grain can be retained and used for seed in the following year. However, contracts or technology use agreements may prevent the grain from being retained after harvest. Also, with seed retained from hybrid crops the traits are no longer guaranteed. Hybrids can self-pollinate and may change characteristics in the following year. If you are keeping your own grain for seed, it is recommended to get germination, vigour and crop specific disease tests done. Under UPOV 91, you can use your own saved seed for future crops but you cannot sell it for others to use.

When should I source my seed?
Starting early is a good idea, as you have more choice for varieties and sources. Starting in the fall gives you a chance to look at other seed sources and seed certificates so that you will find a source with the quality and characteristics you are looking for.

How reliable is the germination test?
The grade given to grain guarantees the germination be within a specific range. If there is a question if the germination has decreased through out the winter, do another germination test before seeding. A germination test looks at possible seeds germinating under ideal conditions. A vigour tries to duplicate some of the natural stresses(like cold and other stresses) a seed undergoes as it germinates in the spring. A vigour test is useful in assessing the strength of the seed or the likelihood of it establishing as a mature plant. The cost of doing these tests will help ensure a good crop establishing..

Canadian Seed Growers Association

Prepared by Karla Bergstrom, Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Harry Brook.
This document is maintained by Kathy Andersen.
This information published to the web on October 10, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on April 22, 2008.