Understanding the components of seed labels and certification tags is important when purchasing seed for wildland restoration projects. This fact sheet explains the common components of a seed label and the different seed certification tags issued by the Nevada Department of Agriculture and official seed-certifying agencies in other states.
All seed sold must either have an analysis tag, or a certificate of analysis associated with the lot. Some certification tags include the analysis information. Seed labels (or seed tags) provide information needed to verify the quality and amount of seed in a lot.
Federal law requires that each seed lot offered for sale – whether a single species or a mixture, certified or non-certified seed – must have a label with several specific pieces of information. Seed analysis labels are most often issued by independent laboratories. A certificate of analysis is a separate document issued by an independent seed lab that will list seed attributes and is maintained by the grower. These certificates are associated with seed lots and can be used in place of an analysis tag. Seed labels are issued by official seed-certifying agencies in some states, but currently not in Nevada.
The components of a typical seed label are:
While all seed offered for sale will include a seed label, only certified seed will include a certification tag issued by the Nevada Department of Agriculture or from the official seed certifying agencies in another state. All state certification agencies comply with the requirements and standards of the Association of Official Seed Certification Agencies, so the information in this section applies to certification tags issued by any state seed certifying agency.
Certification is the process by which the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the state’s certifying agency, gives official recognition to seeds produced using a recognized seed source, grown under specified conditions, and following a limited-generation system. The certification process is designed to ensure genetic purity and identity of seed sold on the commercial market in Nevada.
Only releases are issued certification tags. A release is a plant whose seeds are made available to the public after a formal approval process has determined that the plant has stable genetics (i.e., heritability) when produced under cultivation and has desirable characteristics regarding agronomic performance and ability to establish and persist in a wildland setting. Formal approval processes are conducted by public sector entities such as the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Official state certification programs recognize seven classes of seed for releases. The color of the seed tag corresponds to the type of release:
All tags for breeder, foundation, registered and certified seed contain the following information:
All tags for released PVG contain the following information:
In addition, source-identified seed can contain information on:
For all other certification classes, seed transfer guidance (or “areas of adaptation”) is available in their official release documents. This information provides guidance for where the species is genetically adapted to establish and persist in a wildland setting. To find these official release documents, please refer to the Agricultural Research Service Branch of the USDA.
When seeds are treated with fungicides, insecticides, or some other toxic substance, the law requires that the seed bag be labeled with a treat tag that indicates the precise treatment used.
Contact Russell Wilhelm, Seed Program Manager, Plant Industry Division, Nevada Department of Agriculture at 775-353-3711 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about seed tags in Nevada. Also visit the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s website, www.agri.nv.gov, for more information.
Taylor, M. and Wilhelm, R., 2019, Buying Seed: Understanding Analysis, Certification and Treatment Tags, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno
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