August 10, 2022

Reputable dealers play a key role in the SDSU seed production system

Purchasing Certified seed from reputable dealers impacts the SDSU seed production system

BROOKINGS, SD – Serving as the source of dozens of varieties of wheat and oats, the SDSU College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences plays a vital role in producing seed of crops certified to public use. The purchase of these certified seeds generates a reinvestment in the system, making it possible to develop new varieties in the future. However, without Title V plant variety protection, these seeds can potentially be sold illegally, harming the sustenance of the system.

From breeding to sale

The Certified seed production process spans eight to 10 years, including initial screening and breeding, several years of testing in various environments, and a final scaling up of the seed into commercial quantities.

After an SDSU spring wheat, winter wheat, or oat breeder develops a variety, the seed is placed in crop performance trials, which compare the new varieties with current commercial cultivars for agronomic characteristics, disease resistance, seed composition and yield and end use characteristics such as milling and baking properties.

Following the performance evaluation of the variety, the SDSU Variety Release Committee determines whether the seed volume should be increased in order to release the variety for future sale or discontinued. Upon committee approval, Foundation Seed increases Breeder seed size in fields from 1 to 100 acres over two years, depending on the crop and potential market.

After the committee approves the nominated variety for public release by Foundation Seed, members of the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association produce certified classes of seed, which can then be sold to SDCIA members and other growers. Fields used for this production must be inspected and the resulting Certified seed is tested and labeled before it is made available to anyone for planting.

Plant variety protection

When Certified seed is approved for public release, a 12-month window opens to file a PBR application for the named variety. PVP with Title V provides legal protection for developers, as the protected variety can only be sold under the official variety name as a class of Certified seed.

The PVP process is proving particularly important to the sustenance of the SDSU, Foundation Seed and SDCIA plant breeding program. With PVP, private companies or individuals cannot legally sell protected and named varieties without the permission and certification of the owner. If a violation of the PVP occurs, the SDCIA and SDSU consult with a law firm to investigate and, based on the findings, legal action may be taken against the violators.

Develop the industry

Funding for the equipment, research, and land used in the seed production process comes from royalties, which are paid by anyone who buys Certified seed. These fees flow back into the system to continue the development of new varieties suited to the climates and soils of South Dakota.

“A small plot combined with all the necessities that make work more efficient and data collection more accurate will cost about the same as a full-size combine,” said SDCIA executive director Neal Foster. “The levy system has enabled the upgrading and replacement of much of the equipment in the tractor breeding programs, seeding equipment and combines.”

PVP protects royalties because seeds sold illegally return no funds to the variety development pipeline.

“The funds generated by the royalty system are essential to sustaining these breeding programs and providing better varieties to growers and consumers,” Foster said.

Due to the negative implications of illegal sales, buying seed from reputable dealers becomes an integral part of protecting funding for breeding programs such as SDSUs and protecting land from the introduction of new weeds and new pests.

“A grower growing a commodity must recognize the importance of only purchasing seed that has passed the certification process,” said former SDCIA board chairman Bryan Jorgensen.

By meeting seed purity and quality standards, the certification process allows growers to rest easy knowing that their certified seed is clean, traceable and ready to plant.

“Purchasing seed that has gone through the certification process gives the grower access to superior genetics, which will maximize all other inputs the grower needs to use to grow the crop,” Jorgensen said. “In short, certified seeds pay off!”