Certified forage seed production fields are planted using foundation seed, meaning the seed is one generation from the breeder seed being harvested from the source genetic material. “Closer lines to the source genetic material will provide better varietal integrity and will more closely demonstrate the characteristics of the source variety,” says Erik Dyck, Product Manager for Forage and Turf at BrettYoung. “This is a quality assurance tool put in place for the benefit of Growers. When they grow certified forage seed, they are choosing not to compromise on yield potential and other varietal characteristics like feed quality, seedling vigour, and disease resistance.”
The process to certify seed requires more steps , but the process is worth it. Certified seed production is inspected by Certified Crop Inspectors who verify species, kind, variety, previous cropping history, and isolation distance to other crops. The Canadian Seed Growers Association receives the field reports and applications for issuance of the crop certificate. When harvested the certified seed is cleaned by licensed Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approved conditioners. Forage seed samples are tested by accredited seed labs for purity, germination and pure living seed. Upon completion of testing, and if the seed has met certified requirements as outlined in the Canadian Seeds Regulations Grade Tables, an official CFIA certified label is assigned to that seed lot.
Don’t see a certified blue tag on your BrettYoung forage blend? Only individual lots of seed (single varieties) can be assigned a certified label meaning blends do not qualify. However, this does not preclude a forage blend from containing source components that are all certified. Talk to your seed company representative about the origin of the components in your blend to ensure quality.
So, what are the risks of growing non-certified forage seed otherwise known as common seed? Well, its source material can come from anywhere without any verification of varietal characteristics. The seed can be decades from its source genetic material (breeder seed stock) often resulting in a loss, reduction or variance of desired characteristics that a variety was originally selected for. There is no way to know if the common seed you are planting has the desired vigour, quality, or forage yield potential it may have been marketed to have until the seed is planted and grown. The results will speak for themselves and that is not always a good thing.
“Not only can common seed under-deliver on yield and other varietal characteristics, but it can have presence of other crops, primary or secondary noxious weeds and the allowable weed content is generally higher than certified species,” warns Erik “Your seed investment is too important to gamble on its performance. Growing certified forage seed is well worth the peace of mind.”
To see if certified forage seed is right for your farm, contact your local BrettYoung Regional Account Manager.