Sampling and Testing Requirements for Seed Imported into or Sold in Canada

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1.0 Introduction

Seed imported into or offered for sale in Canada must meet the quality standards established in the Seeds Regulations (the Regulations). The Regulations specify how the seed is sampled, how it is tested and who is qualified to conduct the sampling and testing to determine if the seed meets those standards.

The sampling and testing methods established by the Regulations are minimum requirements. Seed sampled and tested by more rigorous methods will also satisfy the conditions in the Regulations.

2.0 Background

With some exceptions, in order to apply a Canada pedigreed grade name (e.g., Canada Certified No. 1) to a seed lot, the seed must be pedigreed seed of a kind listed in Schedule I to the Regulations (the Grade Tables), where the grading decision is based on the purity and germination results obtained from an officially recognized test.

An officially recognized test is defined in the Regulations (subsection 2(2)) as a test that is conducted:

  • on an officially recognized sample;
  • according to recognized standard methods;
  • by an officially recognized laboratory or, in the case of the purity examination for certain kinds, an accredited grader.

For all other seed lots, including corn, non-pedigreed seed, imported seed, and seed of kinds not listed in the Grade Tables, the Regulations provide alternatives to the requirement for an officially recognized test.

3.0 Seed Sampling Methods

An officially recognized sample (see 3.1 below), obtained by methods set out in the Regulations, is required for an officially recognized test and subsequent grading of pedigreed seed of the kinds in the Grade Tables. For other seed, the Regulations stipulate that the sample must be drawn by a recognized standard method (see 3.2 below).

3.1 Officially Recognized Sample

An officially recognized sample is defined in the Regulations (subsection 2(2)) as a sample that has been:

  • drawn by or under the supervision of a licensed sampler and prepared by a licensed sampler according to recognized standard methods;
  • drawn and prepared according to recognized standard methods by an individual accredited to do so by:
    • a government body, or an officially recognized body with the authority to regulate import, export or marketing of seed;
    • an official certifying agency (e.g., a member of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA)); or
    • a seed testing laboratory accredited by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) if the sample is to be tested by the accrediting laboratory or by another ISTA laboratory.

3.2 Recognized Standard Method – Seed Sampling

All seed must be sampled according to a recognized standard method. However, for corn seed, non-pedigreed seed, and seed of kinds not listed in the Grade Tables, there are no requirements for the individual drawing the sample to be accredited or licensed. A recognized standard method for seed sampling is defined in the Regulations (subsection 2(2)) as the:

4.0 Recognized Standard Method - Seed Testing

All seed must be tested by a recognized standard methodbut the qualifications of thelaboratory or individual conducting the testing varies depending on the species, pedigreed status and purpose of the test. A recognized standard method for seed testing is defined in the Regulations (subsection 2(2)) as the:

  • Canadian Methods and Procedures for Testing Seed;
  • AOSA Rules for Testing Seeds published by AOSA; or
  • International Rules for Seed Testing published by ISTA.

5.0 Seed Testing Laboratories

5.1 Seed to be graded with a Canada pedigreed grade name (paragraph 11(1)(a) of the Regulations)

Pedigreed seed of the crop kinds listed in the Grade Tables, intended to be graded with a Canada pedigreed grade name, must be tested by an officially recognized laboratory, designated by the Minister as an accredited laboratory. Acting on behalf of the Minister, the CFIA accredits Canadian laboratories and also officially recognizes a number of laboratories in the US. For kinds in Grade Tables I to VI and XVIII, the purity examination (but not the germination test) may be conducted by an accredited grader.

5.2 Corn and non-pedigreed seed of kinds in Grade Tables VII to XV (paragraph 11(1)(b) of the Regulations)

Corn to be graded with a Canada pedigreed grade name and non-pedigreed seed of the kinds listed in Grade Tables VII to XV must be tested by a recognized standard method by:

  • an officially recognized laboratory;
  • for purity examination of the kinds listed in Grade Tables I to VI and XVIII, an accredited grader (germination testing must be conducted by a seed testing laboratory that meets the qualifications described in this section)
  • a seed testing laboratory operating under the supervision of a Senior or Associate member of the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada (CSAAC);
  • a seed testing laboratory operating under the supervision of a Registered Seed Technologist (RST) registered by the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST);
  • a seed testing laboratory operated by or under the authority of a national or state government of a foreign country; or
  • a seed testing laboratory accredited by ISTA.

5.3 All other seed (paragraph 11(1)(c) of the Regulations)

For all other seed, including non-pedigreed seed and seed of species not listed in the Grade Tables, the test must be performed according to a recognized standard method but the Regulations do not specify requirements for the qualifications of the laboratory or individual conducting the testing.

6.0 Sampling and Testing Imported Seed

6.1 Import Conformity Assessment

Imported seed must meet minimum quality standards as per section 6 of the Regulations. The sampling and testing requirements are the same as those for corn and non-pedigreed seed of crop kinds in Grade Tables VII to XII (section 3.2 – sampling, and section 5.2 - testing of this document). The sampling must be by a recognized standard method and the testing must be according to a recognized standard method by a laboratory that meets therequirements of paragraph 11(1)(b) of the Regulations or in the case of the purity examination for crop kinds in Grade Tables I to VI and XVIII, an accredited grader.

6.2 Grading Imported Seed

Imported seed of crop kinds in the Grade Tables must be graded prior to sale in Canada. The grading decision must be based on the same sampling and testing requirements as those for domestic seed of that kind.

7.0 Recommendation for Germination Testing

The Regulations do not specify an expiry date for germination test results. The CFIA recommends that, especially in the case of treated seed and seed carried over from a previous year, the germination test be repeated prior to sale to verify that the germination of the seed still meets the labelled grade. Seed must be re-graded and re-labelled if the seed lot no longer meets the germination standard of the original labelled grade. See the Industry Advisory - Requirements Related to Germination Standards.

Table 1 Minimum Requirements for Seed Sampling and Testing At-A-Glance
The following table lists the minimum requirements for seed sampling and testing

Seed to be graded with a Canada pedigreed grade name, except corn

Corn to be graded with a Canada pedigreed grade name

Non-pedigreed seed – Grade Tables VII to XV

Non-pedigreed seed – Grade Tables I to VI and XVI to XXII

Kinds not in the Grade Tables

Conformity with minimum import standards

Applicable Regulations

11(1)(a)

11(1)(b)

11(1)(b)

11(1)(c)

11(1)(c)

11(1)(b) and 40(2)

Officially Recognized TestFootnote 1

Y

checkmark checkmark checkmark checkmark checkmark

Officially Recognized SampleFootnote 2

Y

checkmark checkmark checkmark checkmark checkmark

Sampling - Recognized Standard Method

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Testing - Recognized Standard Method

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Qualifications of Testing Laboratory:

Y

Y

Y

checkmark checkmark

Y

  • Accredited grader (purity only Tables I to VI and XVIII)

Y

Y

N

checkmark checkmark

Y

  • Operated under a Senior or Associate CSAAC member or a RST registered by SCST

N

Y

Y

checkmark checkmark

Y

  • Operated or authorized by a national or state government of a foreign country

N

Y

Y

checkmark checkmark

Y

  • ISTA accredited

N

Y

Y

checkmark checkmark

Y

  • Not specified

-

-

-

Y

Y

-

Y – Minimum requirement

checkmark - not required but would meet minimum requirements

N – Not permitted

Contact

For more information contact:

Seed Section
Field Crops and Inputs Division
Plant Health and Biosecurity Directorate
Policy and Programs Branch
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Email: seedsemence@inspection.gc.ca

Date modified: