Every year, producers are making commitments earlier on their seed required for the next year. Decisions as to what seed to keep off the farm are being made earlier because producers have to make spraying decisions in August which will affect germination. If a producer is looking for a new variety, decisions have to be made early because there is limited access to some varieties. Understanding the blue tag that is on a certified seed bag will help a producer understand the quality of seed they are purchasing. The blue tag is an indication of quality seed. It indicates that the seed has been produced in such a way that it has met all the requirements of Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). These requirements are inspected. If a producer has questions about seed planted in their fields, blue tag seed can be tracked to check records that indicate the quality of the seed of the seed purchased. Certified seed can only be produced by growers that are members of the Canadian Seed Growers Association. As a member of this association, growers are committed to growing quality seed for resale. They must abide by the rules of membership. These rules specify how certain crops can be grown and the procedures required. Certified seed has to be produced in fields that are free from off-types of the variety that is being bought. Isolation from specific crops must be maintained. Noxious weeds cannot be present in the field. The crop must be free of disease. If a field fails to meet any of these criteria on a required field inspection, the seed from the field will not be certified. When in the field, seed growers must clean their combines and other equipment to ensure that contamination does not occur. Once the seed is brought home, it must be stored in cleaned bins with seed from individual fields being stored separately. The cleaning facilities must be get cleaned to avoid contamination of seed lots from what has been in the plant before. Once the field has been inspected, the analytical work on the seed sample is started. A seed sample must have a germination test done. It is inspected for overall quality. The weeds in the sample must be identified and counted. The list of weed seeds, the germination of the sample as well as the off-type varieties must be available to growers on request. A Blue Tag attached to a seed bag is an indication of quality. This tag means the field has been inspected and will meet the criteria that are set out in the seed act or in the regulations. Seed that is certified will be of a quality standard that will allow a producer to grow a top quality crop in their fields. It will be a known variety with minimal weeds and contaminants. The quality of certified seed is recognized by growers and the blue tag attached to the bag is the identifying mark to ask for when buying certified seed.
By Dave Cubbon, P Ag