Test Dates on Seed

Each year inspectors from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development perform hundreds of inspections across the state. The purpose of these inspections is to assure that seed products for sale are labeled to comply with the provisions of the Michigan Seed Law. The most common violation encountered by inspectors each year is seed offered for sale with an expired test date.

Seed dealers should be aware that under the Federal Seed Act Regulations, there can be no more than 5 calendar months between the last day of the month in which the germination test was completed and the date of transportation or delivery for transportation in interstate commerce, except for seed in hermetically sealed containers, in which case no more than 24 calendar months shall have elapsed.

If the seed is received by the dealer within the time frame permitted above, it may continue to be offered for sale in Michigan providing the test date is not more than 11 months old, exclusive of the month in which the seed was tested. The Michigan Seed Law specifies that a person may not sell seed if the labeled test date has expired. That makes it the dealer's responsibility to make sure the test date is current. The dealer should check incoming shipments to assure that the seed has a current test at the time of receipt and is no more than 5 months old at that time.

Expired test date violations are most commonly noted in the lawn/turf market. Expired test dates are not encountered at traditional agricultural dealers with nearly the frequency as in the specialty area. Lawn/turf products are most commonly offered in large discount type mass merchandising chain stores, hardware chain stores, and similar retailers.

This market is serviced by a very small number of seedsmen that have nationwide distribution into these markets. These seedsmen maintain a germination test for most of their stock in distribution and commonly furnish updated labeling for their products that have been held over past the test date. Some of these seedsmen employ representatives to assist chain store retailers in maintaining the test dates and stocking. Products can be relabeled with a test sticker if the lot number is also printed on it.

Test dates are very simple to check. The following list can be used to check your test dates to make sure your product is current:

Month Tested: January (1); Germ Test Expires: Last day of December (12)
Month Tested: February (2); Germ Test Expires: Last day of January (1)
Month Tested: March (3); Germ Test Expires: Last day of February (2)
Month Tested: April (4); Germ Test Expires: Last day of March (3)
Month Tested: May (5); Germ Test Expires: Last day of April (4)
Month Tested: June (6); Germ Test Expires: Last day of May (5)
Month Tested: July (7); Germ Test Expires: Last day of June (6)
Month Tested: August (8); Germ Test Expires: Last day of July (7)
Month Tested: September (9); Germ Test Expires: Last day of August (8)
Month Tested: October (10); Germ Test Expires: Last day of September (9)
Month Tested: November (11); Germ Test Expires: Last day of October (10)
Month Tested: December (12); Germ Test Expires: Last day of November (11)

Please check the test dates on your seed stock. The test date is your responsibility to maintain if you are the one selling the seed. Seed products with expired test dates should never be offered for sale.