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Michigan Seed Certification and Designated Certifying Agencies - Inspection and Testing Requirements

Seed certification is a program of planned production, record keeping, unbiased inspections, and rigid standards to insure the production of high quality seed that is genetically pure.

Whether by traditional means or with the use of biotechnology, plant breeders continue to produce superior varieties. By overseeing production of genetically pure seed stocks, the Michigan Crop Improvement Association (MCIA) provides the vital link between plant breeders and farmers who benefit from these advances. Certified seed is labeled with a blue Certified tag and sold by variety name. The blue Certified tag is a symbol of the high quality standards of certification resulting in dependable performance.

MCIA is the designated State authority to perform seed certification in the State of Michigan according to standards set by state law. MCIA along with associates in other states and countries collectively form a network of agencies better known as the Association of Official Seed Certification Agencies (AOSCA). The goal of AOSCA is to form a recognized system of common standards for Certified seed production.

Certification is a limited generation concept whereby genetic purity is maintained. New varieties developed by plant breeders are increased to supply farmers with high quality, genetically pure seed with superior performance.

Breeder Seed is developed and maintained by the plant breeders of public research institutions and private companies.

Foundation Seed is the first generation from Breeder seed and is rogued for off-types to meet variety descriptions and strict Foundation purity standards.

Certified Seed is the first generation from Foundation seed produced by seed producers throughout Michigan for sale to farmers to use in planting their commercial grain acreage.

Seed certification is performed for seedsmen in Michigan dedicated to taking the extra steps necessary in planting, harvesting, handling, storage, and conditioning to produce genetically pure Certified seed. Individuals interested in Certified seed production and seed purchasing information should contact:

Michigan Crop Improvement Association
P.O. Box 21008
Lansing, MI 48909

Phone:  517-332-3546
Fax:      517-332-9301

While Michigan's certified seed law and program is based on the 3-class system that recognizes Breeder, Foundation, and Certified classes of seed, most other states use a 4-class system in which certified seed is produced from registered seed. Act No. 221 and Regulation No. 623 require that any certified seed sold in Michigan be produced from foundation class seed. Regulation 628 establishes the requirements and standards for the certification of seed potatoes.

Out-of-State Certified Seed

When out-of-state seed is being sold with certified seed tags, MDARD's inspector will determine if the seed was produced from foundation or registered seed. If produced from registered seed, the seed is not legal for sale in Michigan unless the certified tags and any other references to the seed as certified are removed. However, this remedy cannot be used if the seed is a protected variety under TITLE V of the Federal Seed Act. Title V permits sale of the variety only by variety name and only if it is certified. Certified seed (certified tag) from Wisconsin meets Michigan certification standards because that state observes the same standards established in Michigan. Field seed from all other states (with a certified tag) can be sold in Michigan as certified if each of the following conditions are met:

A. The seed is of a kind for which there is no certification program conducted in Michigan. To determine if Michigan has a certification program for a particular kind of seed, check Regulation 623.

B. The seed is of a variety for which there is not a sufficient supply of Michigan-produced certified seed to meet demand. The list of Seeds of Insufficient Supply in Michigan is reviewed annually and updated as necessary. Copies can be obtained from the MDARD Fertilizer and Bulk Agrichemical Storage Specialist listed below upon request:

           Andria McCubbin-Green, Nursery and Seed Program Specialist

           Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development
           Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division
           P.O. Box 30017
           Lansing, MI 48909

           PH: 517-599-5748

C. The factors on the tag (purity, inert, weed, other crop, and germination) meet the requirements of the Michigan Seed Law Act No. 329.

Field seed from all other states with a four class certification system can be sold in Michigan as certified seed if it is of the registered class (registered tag) of that state, and the factors on the tag (purity, inert, weeds, other crops, germination, etc.) meet or exceed the Michigan standards for the crop kind.

"R" on "Certified" Tags

In the event that seed of the registered class enters Michigan commerce with a "certified" tag, the seed is acceptable only if the tag bears the letter "R" after the name of the kind of seed. Due to agreements made with other states' certifying agencies, the "R" denotes that the seed is registered seed (progeny of foundation).

Designated Seed Certifying Agencies

  • The Michigan Crop Improvement Association (MCIA) is officially designated as the official seed-certifying agency for field crop seed grown in Michigan.
  • The Michigan Seed Potato Association (MSPA) is officially designated as the official seed-certifying agency for potato seed grown in Michigan.
  • MCIA and MSPA are also authorized by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to charge a fee commensurate with the cost of the seed certification function.