Seed Tags: What They Reveal
The Kentucky Seed Law requires labeling of all agricultural
seeds sold, offered or exposed for sale in bulk or a container
of one pound or more (tobacco, one-twelfth ounce or more). This
labeling is accomplished by attaching an analysis tag or label
to each bag or container, stating the following: Kind and variety
of crop seed in the container, name and address of the person
labeling the seed, where the seed was grown, and a lot number
or other lot identification.
The label must also show the quality of the seed as determined
by analyzing and testing a sample taken from the lot. The analysis
information on the tag or label includes the percentages of
pure seed, crop seed, weed seed, inert matter, germination,
and hard seed. The month and year the germination test was made
and the name and number per pound of weed seed designated noxious
in Kentucky must also be shown on the label.
An example of a seed tag is shown below and an explanation
of each item on the tag follows. Click on an item to learn more
about it or scroll through the entire document to see all:
|KIND AND VARIETY
||The kind and variety of crop seed in the container, the
proportion of which is indicated by the percentage of pure
seed. For example, the illustrated analysis tag shows 99.40%
pure seed which means that 99.40% of the contents of the
container is Johnstone Tall Fescue; the remainder, 0.60%,
is not and in actuality is worthless to the purchaser.
Determine the kind and variety of seed you wish to plant
and make certain that you get what you want (read the
tag). For maximum yields, only those varieties that are
adapted, disease-resistant, and recommended for your locality
should be planted. Seed stock of known origin and performance
should be used in fulfilling this requirement. it is best
to avoid planting mixtures unless you have a specific
reason to do so. The best source of planting seed is one
of the classes of certified seed, such as registered or
certified. At any rate, planting seed stock should not
be too far removed from the breeder. if you have questions
as to what variety, and perhaps kind, you should plan
to consult your county Extension agent for agriculture.
||A number or other identification used
primarily by the seedsman, seed dealer, and seed law administrators
as a means of identification. The lot number is of no particular
significance other than for identification and has no relationship
to the quality of the seed as determined by reading the
tag unless one has knowledge of the particular lot. It does
facilitate tracing a lot of seed from the consumer to the
producer. One should choose a simple system and not repeat
the series of lot designations more often than every 3 years.
||Percent of the KIND and VARIETY named on the tag or label.
When two or more are present, each in excess of 5% of the
whole, the kind and variety of each, together with their
percentages, will appear on the tag or label. A HIGH percentage
of pure seed is desirable.
||Seed-like structures from both crop
and weed plants and other materials not seeds such as dirt,
chaff, stones, stems, leaves, pieces of broken seeds one-half
or less than the original size, nematode galls, and fungus
bodies such as ergot. Amount present is expressed as a percentage.
A LOW percentage is desirable.
||Seeds of plants grown as crops, other than the kind and
variety named on the tag. Presence is indicated in percentage
of the whole. A LOW percentage, preferably none, is desirable.
||Seeds, bulblets, or tubers of plants
recognized as weeds by laws, official regulations, custom,
or general usage. Their presence is expressed as a percentage.
A LOW percentage, preferably none, is desirable. The Kentucky
Seed Law prohibits the sale of seed containing more than
2% weed seed.
||Percent of the PURE SEED
that germinate and thus are capable of producing a normal
plant under favorable field conditions. On the example analysis
tag, the germination percentage of 94.00% means that 94%
of the pure seed (in this case 99.40%) will germinate under
favorable conditions and produce normal plants in the field.
The values on the tag reveal that 93.44% (99.40% pure seed
x 94% germination) of the total weight of this lot of seed
has the potential of producing normal Johnstone Tall Fescue
plants in the field. The planting value, pure-live seed
(percent germination x percent pure seed) of any seed lot
may be determined in this manner. The Kentucky Seed Law
(Regulation) prohibits the sale of uncertified seed unless
the sum of the germination and hard seed percentages is
60% or more. Standards of germination for certified seed
are established by the Kentucky Seed Improvement Association.
||Percent of the pure seed that are viable
(alive) but do not germinate during the prescribed test
period because they do not absorb water owing to impermeability
of the seed coat. Most hard seeds eventually germinate and
produce a plant. Hard seeds extend the germination over
a longer period of time, which may or may not be an advantage.
Hard seeds are undesirable when immediate germination is
required. Conversely, presence of hard seeds would be desirable
when an extended germination period will increase the chances
of a stand. The sum of the germination and hard seed percentages
is the total value of the seed lot with respect to plant-producing
potential. Hard seed are common in the Legume family (clovers,
beans, etc.), the Mallow family (okra, cotton), and certain
tree and shrub seeds. The Kentucky Seed Law (Regulation)
prohibits inclusion of hard seed in the germination percentage.
Percentages of germination and hard seed must be reflected
separately on the analysis tag.
|DATE OF TEST
||The month and year the germination test was made. Generally,
the germinating or plant-producing ability of seed declines
with age. Consequently, one should hesitate to purchase
or plant seed with an old test date. The test should be
fairly recent; the more recent the better. The Kentucky
Seed Law (Regulation) prohibits the sale of seed with a
test date older than 9 months.
| The state or county in which the seeds
were grown (produced). If the place of origin is not known,
this fact must be stated on the analysis tag. Origin is
of particular importance in certain kinds of seeds since
many varieties are adapted to the climatic conditions of
only a particular area. These varieties will not perform;
indeed, they may not survive outside their area of adaptation.
Alfalfa, red clover, white clover, timothy, open-pollinated
corn, and forest tree seeds are examples. Some varieties
are susceptible to diseases that are prevalent in areas
outside the area of production, thus restricting their distribution.
Use of seed of non-adapted kinds, varieties or types of
crops may result in severe economic loss and perhaps complete
crop failure. Only those varieties that are recommended
or proven in your area should be planted. If you have doubts,
see your county Extension agent for agriculture.
|NOXIOUS WEED SEEDS
||Seeds, bulblets, or tubers of plants that reproduce by
seeds, bulblets, or tubers and/or spread by underground
roots or stems. Such plants are detrimental to the agriculture
of this state, are particularly objectionable in lawns and
gardens, and are difficult to control by ordinary good cultural
practices when established. Presence of noxious weed seed
is indicated on the tag or label by name and number of weed
seed per pound of seed. Seed containing no noxious weed
seed is most desirable.
Seeds designated noxious in Kentucky and their permitted
rate of occurrence per pound of agricultural seed are:
NAME OF NOXIOUS WEED
Common and Botanical
Number of Weed Seed Per Pound
|Canada Thistle (Cirsium
halepense) and Sorghum almum and perennial rhizomatous
derivatives of these
|Purple Moonflower (Ipomea
|Annual Bluegrass (Poa
|Buckhorn Plantain (Plantago
|Dodder (Cuscuta spp.)
|Giant Foxtail (Setaria
|Ox-eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum
|Sorrell (Rumex acetosella)
|Wild Onion and Wild Garlic
|Maximum Total - Not to
exceed above limitations
||The name of the person, company, or
corporation labeling the seed. The address must also be
shown. The seedsman may or may not be the same as the person
offering the seed for sale in retail or wholesale outlets.
The person who exposes for sale, offers for sale, or sells
seed is responsible for insuring that analysis tags or labels
are attached to each bag or container offered for sale in
his warehouse or place of business. It is also his responsibility
to make certain the germination test date is current. The
person, company, or corporation whose name appears on the
tag or label is the source of the information on the tag
or label and is responsible for any and all such information.
KNOW WHAT YOU SOWóRead The Tag Attached To The Bag!
|T. Wayne Still, Retired
David T. Buckingham
Seed Regulatory Program