What is Canadian Certified Seed?

Certified seed is the product of a production process designed to deliver specific plant breeding achievements to farmers and the food industry. In other words, it is true-to-type. True-to-type means all the benefits developed by the plant breeder are retained as the seed is multiplied over a number of specific number of generations (to the Certified seed stage) from the small amount of seed developed by the plant breeder.

Since 1904, the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association (CSGA) has ensured the supply of high-quality seed in Canada. Its members have been multiplying and producing some of the highest quality seed in the world using a quality assurance identity preserved system that is world renowned.

Certified seed is recognizable by the blue Certified tag of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that accompanies each sale of seed. This tag means the seed and crop have been inspected by an officially recognized third-party agency, have been produced by dedicated Canadian seed growers according to stringent requirements, have undergone a carefully monitored production process, have passed the quality assurance requirements of varietal purity, germination and freedom from impurities, and are ready for commercial use.

Canada’s seed system is recognized and respected around the globe because it ensures germination and mechanical purity, while providing an third-party verified audit trail of varietal identity.  It’s a system that has given Canada its worldwide reputation as a supplier of quality agricultural products, a reputation you can use to guarantee the quality of your own products.

There are three main components to this system:

  1. Varietal Purity: At each stage of pedigreed seed production, standards for isolation distances, land-use history, maximum levels of off-types, other crop kinds and weeds have been established by the CSGA. These are the rules all seed growers must follow to maintain crop purity. This is especially important to maintain yield, quality, disease resistance, and other distinguishing characteristics of the variety. It means seed growers must plan years in advance what crop they will plant where to prevent contamination. It means cleaning seeders and combines between plots and fields, cleaning augers and storage facilities between varieties, as well as weeding and roguing plots and fields to remove off-types and weeds from the pedigreed seed crop
  2. Germination: Just like the pedigree of a prized animal, the pedigree of a seed crop is documented on paper from the breeding establishment to commercial sale. Documented seed lab test results from seed labs accredited by the CFIA also confirm seed purity and germination of all Certified seed crops.
  3. Freedom from Impurities: In the field, third-party inspections overseen by the CFIA verifies proper isolation, that the crop was produced from a higher level progeny, and absence of volunteer crops and off-types. In pedigreed seed processing plants, registered by the CFIA, random sampling verifies mechanical purity, which is the freedom from weeds and other crop kinds.

Canada’s seed growers produce living seed products under this system and adhere to the CSGA’s and CFIA’s strict standards for quality and purity. Certified seed grown, processed, and inspected under this Q&A system is labelled with a blue CFIA Certified seed tag – proof of the product’s integrity and soundness.

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The Value of Certified Seed

Marketing Power

Certified Seed is the basis of food, fuel, and fibre value chains and variety-specific, identity-preserved programs.

  • You get premiums for specific varieties by demonstrating you’ve used Certified seed.
  • End-users can be confident they are getting what they pay for. Using grains and oilseeds grown from Certified seed means they get the end-product characteristics they expect: from waxy corn, to soft wheat, to high stability soybeans and canola.

Bred for Success

Certified seed captures the full benefits of a plant breeding program. It’s the only reliable way to access the traits you need.

  • Research and development by plant breeders results in improved varieties, often with new specialty traits.
  • With new varieties, agronomic performance like disease resistance is also increased.
  • Certified seed isn’t just your first chance to get a new variety – it’s the way to get the best of that variety every year.

Risk Management

With Certified seed you get access to risk management programs and agronomic support from seed suppliers.

  • Seed variety developers and distributors stand behind their Certified seed.
  • Isolation in Certified seed production means you are getting the variety you purchased. In an era of herbicide and insect-tolerant crops and specialty traits, can you afford to get anything less than the highest possible varietal purity?
  • Land use requirements in Certified seed production reduce the risk of volunteer plants of other varieties or kinds emerging from dormant seed of previous crops.
  • Certified seed is the starting point of traceability programs, and using grains and oilseeds grown from Certified seed can open doors and build consumer confidence when you’re a supplier to the food chain.

Top Quality and Assured Varietal Identity

You can be certain about the quality and characteristics of Certified seed in terms of purity, identity, pedigree, and traceability because it’s produced under stringent, federally regulated requirements overseen by auditors who are officially recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). These requirements produce cleaner Certified seed crops that give you more confidence at planting and less dockage at delivery.

  • Land rotation and isolation protocols ensure the Certified seed is as pure as possible.
  • Certified seed crops are carefully surveyed and weeds or off-types are removed. As well, the crop is segregated during harvest, handling and processing by CFIA-registered seed establishments to maintain purity.
  • Certified seed is also tested at CFIA-accredited labs and graded by CFIA-accredited graders.

Top 10 Reasons to Use Certified Seed

1. Clean seed

Certified seed is grown and processed under stringent production requirements with strict limits on weeds and other crop kinds.

2. Varietal purity

Certified seed uses strictly monitored quality management systems to maximize varietal purity – making sure you get the specific variety you want. Other varieties and off-types are guaranteed to be minimized.

3. Guaranteed quality assurance

Inspections in the field and at the processing plant ensure that all quality assurance requirements have been met and documented. Your seed is what you expect it to be, allowing you to back up your assurances to others.

4. Access to new opportunities

Many end-users require specific varieties for their products. Using Certified seed can open the door to new opportunities and greater sales by providing officially recognized proof of your parent seed varietal identity.

5. Traceability

Food safety and traceability are important considerations in agriculture. You can only be sure of your product if you know its origins. Certified seed is the key to that knowledge: production of this seed is carefully controlled under a quality assurance system right from the beginning. Using Certified seed will allow you to capitalize on traceability measures.

6. New genetics

Improved traits such as better yield, pest resistance, drought tolerance, herbicide tolerance, and much more are delivered to farmers in Certified seed. Years of research and development went into these traits and they can only be reliably accessed through Certified seed.

7. Substance behind your word

The blue tag is proof that you used Certified seed to maintain the value traits of the crop. It’s your assurance to grain buyers and others that what you are delivering is what you say it is.

8. Maximize other inputs

You want the best genetics and the cleanest fields to ensure you are making the most of your input dollars. Planting Certified seed means you’re not wasting time, and the ever-increasing investment required for modern crop production, on seed that won’t reliably produce a top crop.

9. Access to premium markets

Certified seed is the only input that can get you more than just higher yields. It can be your ticket to premium markets like tofu soybeans or high stability canola and other identity-preserved (IP) markets.

10. A better deal on crop insurance

In some cases, Certified seed allows you to get a better deal on crop insurance premiums. Insurers know that Certified seed means a crop with reduced risk.

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