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labeling a seed

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Seed Labeling

The information reported on the product label and the seed certification label must comply with seed laws and the truth in marketing requirements of trade practice laws. The legal requirements vary from one country to another and, in some countries, among states or provinces. Typically, the label information includes the seed lot number, which enables tracking of the seed through the distribution chain and back to the seed producer; the kind/species, cultivar name, and origin of production; percentages of germination, pure seed, inert matter, other crop seed, and weed seed; percentage of noxious weed seeds if found; test date of seed, year of production, expiration date of valid certification, details of treatments applied to seed, and relevant safety warnings to users; the name and address of the wholesaler, manufacturer, or seed producer; and details and limitations of guarantees, and arbitration proceedings.

In the case of forage tall fescue seed containing a nontoxic endophyte, the label also may contain information about the minimum percentage of seeds infected with the nontoxic endophyte, and a recommended date before when the seed product should be planted (Fig. 25-1). In addition, the package may record several guidelines for users: (i) site selection, choice of ground and soils suitable for forage tall fescue; (ii) use of a soil test to determine recommended fertilizer applications; (iii) operations to remove existing vegetation and prepare ground for planting forage tall fescue seed; (iv) seeding rates for planting in both cultivated and no-till operations; (v) recommended companion species, namely legumes; (vi) recommended planting dates; and (vii) operations to manage seedling and mature forage tall fescue plants.

If the package label does not include the above information, purchasers are advised to request the missing information from their seed supplier or extension adviser.

Fig. 25-1. A field of ‘Jesup’ tall fescue containing an experimental nontoxic endophyte, planted on 29 Aug. 2002, is ready for seed harvest near Salem, OR, on 3 June 2005, with seedsmen Tim Thompson (left) and Trevor Abbott (right). (Photo courtesy of Tony Stratton.)

The information reported on the product label and the seed certification label must comply with seed laws and the truth in marketing requirements of trade practice laws. The legal requirements vary from one country to another and, in some countries, among states or provinces. Typically, the label information includes the seed lot number, which enables tracking of the seed

Labeling Seed in Minnesota

What information is required on the label?

A seed label must contain very specific information to convey the type and quality of the seed. The required label information is based on the kind of seed. Detailed information for each kind of seed is provided in sections below. In general, seed is labeled with the following information.

  • Kind and Variety
  • Lot number
  • Purity, Other crop, Weed seed, and Inert matter percentages
  • Noxious weed seeds by name and number per pound
  • Germination, Dormant, Hard seed, and Total viable percentages
  • Test or packed for/sell by dates
  • Origin
  • Name and address of labeler

The required information depends on the kind of seed and its intended use. All information must be based on seed tests including purity exam, noxious seed exam, and germination testing conducted according to AOSA Rules for Testing Seeds. All labels must indicate the presence of and number per pound for Prohibited and Restricted Weed Seeds (PDF). Any seed lot contaminated by Amaranthus spp. must be tested appropriately to confirm whether these seeds are Palmer Amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri). Genetic testing methods must be used to make this determination.

Retail outlets that sell this seed must maintain the label provided by the initial labeler. Both parties are responsible for ensuring that germination test dates are up to date on seed that is offered for sale.

Sales Records and File Samples

Seed labelers are required to maintain Records for Seed Sales (PDF) including seed test results, invoices for seeds purchased, invoices for seed sold, a copy of the label, and a representative file sample of each seed lot.

Agricultural Seed

Labeling Agricultural Seed (PDF) includes seed for grain and forage production, but also includes lawn & turf grass seed, native grass seed, or mixtures that include these kinds intended for agricultural use.

Native grasses, forbs, and mixtures

Labeling Native Seeds (PDF) used for conservation and restoration projects are considered agricultural seed but have some unique characteristics that require attention in labeling.

Vegetable & Flower Seed

Labeling Vegetable & Flower Seed (PDF) intended for home gardeners are usually sold in small packets. Labeling requirements for these seeds are different than for agricultural seeds.

Seeds of Trees & Shrubs

Labeling Tree & Shrub Seed (PDF) represent a small segment of the Minnesota seed business but they have some specific label requirements.

What information is required on the label? A seed label must contain very specific information to convey the typ