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N.D. State Seed Department Encourages Proper Labeling of Seed
North Dakota Ag Connection - 01/28/2021

As seed sales activity has increased in recent weeks, so have the number of inquiries the North Dakota State Seed Department (NDSSD) has received regarding the proper labeling of seed.

"Buyers and sellers both should understand that all seed intended for planting purposes must be properly tested and labeled in accordance with North Dakota seed laws," says Jason Goltz, NDSSD regulatory manager. "Labeling laws protect both the labeler and the customer. Regardless of use, whether for crop production, cover crop, pollinator habitat or forage production, all seed must be labeled.

"When selling or buying seed, it is important to remember a few key points," Goltz adds.

Most varieties of agricultural crops are protected by some type of intellectual property rights laws and some crop varieties are required by federal law to be certified by an official seed certifying agency. In North Dakota, most agricultural crops sold must be identified by variety name, but the seller is responsible for knowing, Goltz says. The unauthorized sale of a protected variety, even to a neighbor or friend, is illegal.

Violations of seed laws can be expensive. In North Dakota, a violation of the Plant Variety Protection Act, for example, can result in a fine up to $10,000 per violation. Seed labeling requirements are outlined in state seed law, Chapter 4.1-53 of North Dakota Century Code.

"The visual appearance of seed is not always a good indicator of seed quality," Goltz says. "This season is a good example, as the NDSSD seed lab has observed a significant number of common samples of poor quality."

Although the samples appeared normal, the germination results were low, demonstrating the need for testing at a qualified lab that follows the Association of Official Seed Analyst rules for testing seed.

The seller is responsible for testing and labeling each seed lot offered for sale in North Dakota. Proper testing is the only way to assess the factors necessary for a legal label, such as germination percentage, purity, and the presence of contaminants such as weed seed and other crop seed.

Buyers are advised to never purchase seed that is not labeled nor accept a promise that the label will be mailed later.


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