Seed Certification

Seed certification is a limited generation program for assuring the genetic purity of seed. The variety of a crop from which certified seed is to be produced must first be accepted for certification. It may be submitted by plant breeders in public institutions for public varieties or private organizations for proprietary varieties. Acceptance is based on data and information that substantiate claims by the plant breeder and shows the variety to be uniform and adapted to the region of production.

The first seed of a new variety, grown under the supervision of the plant breeder, is called Breeder seed. The generation grown from the Breeder seed is know as Foundation in the United States. Generations are limited to maintain seed purity. The normal progression of the seed classes is: Foundation – Registered – Certified. Certified seed is normally made available only to growers who produce commercial seed classes. Under this system, genetic purity standards are strictest in earlier generations to prevent unacceptable frequencies of off-types in later generations. During field inspections the initial out-crosses are often more easily distinguishable from true to type plants. Certified classes must be produced in a manner that meets the standards of a certification agency. While requirements of the various certification agencies may vary slightly, they always will meet or exceed national standards.

Farmers or growers who wish to produce Certified seed must apply to the certification agency in their state. Seed crops are inspected while growing in the field for compliance with standards for genetic purity and isolation. Seed harvesting, storage and conditioning must be done in a manner to prevent contamination and insure varietal purity. Samples of the seed are laboratory tested for physical, genetic, and viability quality. After all requirements are met certification labels are printed for seed containers or made available to accompany bulk lots.

OSIA's Function


Coordinate our member’s activities  

Minimum Standards

Establishes minimum standards for seed certification


Supervises compliance by member agencies