Requirements Related to Germination Standards

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The CFIA is concerned about the germination of seed offered for sale in Canada, in particular, that the germination at the time of sale may not meet the germination standard of the labelled grade.

Seed in storage deteriorates over time. When testing and grading of seed is carried out a significant period of time prior to the sale of the seed, the germination of the seed may decline to such a degree that it no longer meets the germination standard of the labelled grade.

1. It is the seller's responsibility to ensure that the germination of the seed offered for sale meets the germination standard for the labelled grade of that seed at the time of sale.

Paragraph 3(1)(a) of the Seeds Act stipulates that "Except as provided by the regulations, no person shall sell, import into Canada or export from Canada any seed unless the seed conforms to the prescribed standard and is marked and packed and the package labelled as prescribed."

2. The seller must, upon written request by the purchaser, supply the purchaser seed testing results within 30 days of receiving the request.

Section 18 of the Seeds Regulations states that if the vendor supplies the purchaser within 30 days of a written request by the purchaser with the following information of seed testing results, then this information does not have to be labelled on the package of seed:

  1. the name and number of noxious weed seeds per unit weight;
  2. the name and number of other weed seeds per unit weight;
  3. the name and number of seeds of other crops per unit weight;
  4. the percentage of germination of a representative sample of the seed; and
  5. the date on which the test was completed.

The Seeds Act and Regulations do not specify a requirement for an expiry date for germination test results. However, the CFIA recommends that germination updates should be carried out every six months for seed that has been tested and graded but not yet sold. Furthermore, for treated seed, the CFIA recommends that germination updates be carried out every three months. Seed should be re-graded and re-labelled if the seed lot no longer meets the germination standard of the original labelled grade.

The CFIA will continue to monitor germination of all seed in the marketplace in its monitoring program.

Originally issued June 23, 2009 (Information Letter To Industry)

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