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Seed

The Seed Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture helps producers and growers through seed regulation and service seed testing.  The seed regulatory program protects the industry and consumers through inspection and analysis of seed products in the marketplace.  The service seed testing program conducts analyses for seed producers, researchers, farmers and gardeners to determine the quality of seed.  The seed program administers the seed certification program to ensure genetic purity.

On November 30, 2004, Governor Rendell signed into law Act 164 combining the Seed Act and Seed Certification Act under Title 3 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 71.  The consolidated bill will be known as the Pennsylvania Seed Act 164. This information will highlight some of the important highlights of the Pennsylvania Seed Act.  This notice does not cover all the requirements of the Seed Act; therefore, please refer to the Seed Act and the appropriate Regulations for complete statutory and regulatory requirements.

Licensing

Each distributor of seed in this Commonwealth, on or before January 1st of each year or prior to distribution, shall apply for and obtain an annual license for each legal entity.  The license fee is $25.00 per calendar year for each entity with the license expiring on December 31st of that year.  A distributor is defined as the person whose name appears on the label of the seed.  Each name and address that appears on the label will be required to obtain a Seed License.

To apply for a seed license, please complete form API-SL001.  Please read instructions completely and print legibly.  The completed form and check made payable to the "Commonwealth of PA" should be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry, Seed Program Section, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.  The department may require an applicant for a license or a current licensee to submit the labeling that the person is using or intends to use for the seed to ensure compliance with the Seed Act and Regulations.

 

Licensed Seed Dealer Search

 

Link to apply for license online and pay by credit card.  Click Here

General Labeling Requirements

The following is a brief outline for the labeling requirements of seed and is intended for informational purposes only.  For complete details see Pennsylvania Seed Act Title 3 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Chapter 71, Seed, as amended.  Title 7 of the Pennsylvania Code, Chapter 111 for supporting labeling requirements.

  1. ALL SEEDS
    1. Every person functioning as a distributor of seed in this Commonwealth shall apply and obtain an annual license for each legal entity the first of every year.  A fee of $25 will be assessed.
    2. Unlawful to sell, offer for sale or transport seed unless properly labeled.   Label must be legible, in the English language, in a conspicuous place on the outside of the container.
    3. Complete name and address of seller or labeler.
    4. Treatment statement, if treated.
    5. No false or misleading advertising or labeling.
    6. Seed not correctly labeled may be subject to a "Stop Sale Order" and/or civil or criminal penalties may be assessed.
    7. The sale of small amounts of seed from a larger container by a seller to the end user is permitted, provided the sale is made directly from the original container bearing all the required information.
  2. AGRICULTURAL SEED
    1. Accepted name of kind or kind and variety.  If a mixture, components of 5% or more must be listed in order of predominance.  The words "mixture", "mix", "mixed" or "blend", where appropriate, must be used.
    2. Percentages of pure seed, other crop seed, inert matter, and weed seeds that must total 100%.  Allowable limit for weed seeds is 1%.
    3. Lot number
    4. Origin of alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, red and white clover, field corn (except hybrids) and all certified seed.
    5. Name and number of restricted noxious weed seeds.  Check regulations for allowable limits. No prohibited noxious weed seed allowed.
    6. Germination percentage, hard seed, if required, and date of test. 
  3. LAWN AND TURF SEED AND MIXTURES
    1. The components of mixtures must be listed in order of predominance.
    2. Maximum amount of inert matter 10% except for "variety not stated" Kentucky bluegrass where the maximum is 15%.
    3. Cool Season Grass Seed germination test date is allowed for 15 months, not including month of test.
    4. A "Sell by" date is required.
    5. Maximum "Undesirable Grass Seeds" is .50%.
  4. TREE AND SHRUB SEEDS
    1. Common name and scientific name.
    2. Lot number.
    3. Origin (State and country and elevation).
    4. Year collected
    5. Germination percentage, hard seed and test date.
    6. Percentage of pure seed.
  5. VEGETABLE AND HERB SEEDS
    1. Accepted name of kind and variety.
    2. Germination percentage:  a.) Containers of one pound or less the statement "Packed for ________" and "Sell buy_____" date or the percentage of germination, hard seed, if required, and test date.  B.) Containers of more than one pound, the percentage of germination, hard seed, if required, date of test and lot number.
    3. Germinations below standard, the percentage germination, hard seed, if required, date of test, and the statement "BELOW STANDARD".
    4. Seeds in germination medium, mats, tapes, etc. must show the minimum number of seeds in the container.
  6. FLOWER SEEDS
    1. Name of kind and variety or a statement of type and performance characteristics.
    2. Germination information: Same as above for vegetable seeds.

Complete records and a file sample of seeds tested are required to be kept for two years.

Germination Labeling - A germination test date is allowed for nine months not including month of test, unless otherwise stated in the statute.  Example: Tested January 2004.  This seed could legally be sold thru the end of October 2004.  The test date for "hermetically" sealed seed containers is allowed for 36 months.

Seed Certification

The purpose of seed certification is to maintain and make available to the public sources of high quality seeds and propagating materials of varieties grown and distributed so as to insure genetic identity.

Seed Testing Laboratory

The Seed Laboratory conducts various tests to ensure the quality and viability for all seeds being marketed in Pennsylvania.  The laboratory provides this testing service for a fee to all persons interested in marketing or planting seed.

Transportation of Seed - Samples sent by mail or express must be enclosed in sturdy containers addressed to:

 

Seed Laboratory
Department of Agriculture
2301 North Cameron St.
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408

 

Size of Sample - An analysis can only show the quality of the sample submitted; therefore, the submitted sample should be taken so as to represent the bulk of the seed to be tested.  The following are minimum weights of representative samples of seed to be submitted for purity analysis, noxious weed seed exam, and germination tests.

  • Two ounces of grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, bentgrass, and seeds of similar kinds.
  • Five ounces of ryegrass, fescues, grass mixtures, and small seeded legumes.
  • Two pounds of small grains and sorghums.
  • At least 1000 seeds of any kind for a germination test.
  • An official germination test consists of 400 seeds; having 1000 seeds allows for an official retest if it is needed. Customers that send in a sample with less than 1000 seeds will not be reimbursed for any loss of seed due to testing failure. Those samples that contain less the 400 seeds will have the statement "Not enough seed for an official test" added to the report. If you have any question please contact the Seed Laboratory Supervisor

Type of Test - A statement must accompany the seed stating the kind of test desired.  A Pennsylvania noxious weed examination is included with a purity analysis.  Seed samples treated with any material will not be tested unless the name of the substance is plainly marked on the container.

Seed Testing and Seed Certification Fees - The Secretary of Agriculture, under the authority of §7109 of the "Pennsylvania Seed Act" (3 Pa. C.S.A. §§7101 - 7122) hereby establishes the following adjustment of fees for seed testing and seed certification services:

 

SEED TESTING FEES
Kind
Purity**
Germination
Combined
Alfalfa
 
 
Beans
 
 
Beans, Fava
 
 
Beans, Lima
 
 
Birdsfoot trefoil
 
 
Clovers
 
 
Crownvetch
 
 
Corn
 
 
Flatpea
 
 
Flowers
$17.00
$15.00
$32.00
Peas
 
 
Small grains
 
 
Soybeans
 
 
Timothy
 
 
Tobacco
 
 
Trees (Forbs, Shrubs, Trees)
 
 
Vegetables
 
 
Vetch
 
 
Other similar seeds
 
 
 
Beets
 
 
 
Swiss Chard
$17.00
$25.00
$42.00
Other similar seeds
 
 
 
Deertonguegrass
 
 
 
Millets
 
 
 
Oats (including fluorescence test)
 
 
 
Radish, Forage
 
 
 
Reed canarygrass
 
 
 
Ryegrass (without fluorescence test)
$20.00
$17.00
$37.00
Sorghums
 
 
 
Sudangrass
 
 
 
Switchgrass
 
 
 
Tall Fescue
 
 
 
Other similar seeds
 
 
Bermudagrass
 
 
 
Bromes
 
 
 
Fescues (excluding Tall Fescue)
 
 
 
Lovegrass
$23.00
$19.00
$42.00
Orchardgrass
 
 
 
Ryegrass (with fluorescence)
 
 
 
Teff
 
 
 
Wild Barley
 
 
 
Wildrye
 
 
 
Other similar seeds
 
 
 
Alkaligrass
 
 
 
Bentgrass
 
 
 
Retop
 
 
 
Gamagrass
 
 
 
Indiangrass
$29.00
$23.00
$52.00
Kentucky bluegrass - Poa spp.
 
 
 
Sedges
 
 
 
Other similar seeds
 
 
 
Bluestems
$45.00
$25.00
$70.00
Other similar seeds
 
 
 
Mixtures
Purity**
Germination
Combined
Lawn and Turf:
 
 
 
Two components
$45.00
$36.00
$72.00
Three components
$60.00
$51.00
$102.00
Four components
$75.00
$66.00
$132.00
  each additional component
$15.00
$15.00
$30.00
Pasture, Hay, Conservation:
 
 
 
Two components
$40.00
$30.00
$60.00
Three components
$55.00
$45.00
$90.00
Four components
$70.00
$60.00
$120.00
each additional component
$15.00
$15.00
$30.00
Flower (Germination only)
 
$15.00 / component
 
Vegetable:
 
 
 
Two components
$34.00
$30.00
$58.00
Three components
$49.00
$45.00
$88.00
Four components
$64.00
$60.00
$118.00
each additional component
$15.00
$15.00
$30.00
Native Warm Season mixes/Conservation mixes:
Those mixes that are composed primarily of warm season native species not normally used for forage or pasture:
 
2 components
$50.00
$40.00
$80.00
3 components
$65.00
$55.00
$120.00
Each additional component
$15.00
$15.00
$30.00
Miscellaneous Charges
Interstate Noxious Weed Exam:
 
Lawn and Turf
$35.00
All others
$25.00
Pennsylvania noxious exam (no Purity):
 
Mixtures
$20.00
Single kinds
$15.00
Other Tests:
 
Cold test
 $30.00
Canada Standards
$20.00
Sand/Soil test
$30.00
Trait Testing (GMO)
$35.00
Identification
$10.00
Rush
$20.00
Extra Lab report - Faxed report, Mailed report
$5.00
Tests not listed, special procedures - 1hr Min.
$30.00/hr
TZ - 1hr Min.
$30.00/hr
Seed Count test
$10.00
Washing of coated, pelleted, or treated seed
$15.00
CERTIFICATION FEES
Application Fee
$30.00
Field Inspection Fees:
 
Potatoes
$10.00 per acre
Prenuclear Potatoes
$0.15 per square foot
Tobacco
$75.00 Minimum
Small Grains
$3.00 per acre
Soybeans
$3.00 per acre
Hybrid Field Corn
$9.00 per acre
Grasses, Legumes
$3.00 per acre
Turfgrass Sod
$5.00 per acre (Pre-plant)
Turfgrass Sod
$7.00 per acre (Harvest)
Trees
Actual cost; $30/hour
Tag Fees:
 
Certified Seed
$0.12 per each
I/A Certified Seed
$0.15 per each
Certified Sod
$0.25 per each
Certified Potatoes
$0.12 per each
Misc. Fees
Potato Shipping Insp.
$35.00
Grass, Legume Prod.
$0.05 per pound
Cert. Mix Supervision
$25.00 per 1000 pounds
Sampling each component
$25.00
**Purity test includes a Pennsylvania noxious weed exam.