Producers should be mindful of proper seed labeling when it comes to purchasing seed.

“Buyers and sellers both should understand that all seed intended for planting purposes must be properly tested and labeled in accordance with North Dakota seed laws,” said Jason Goltz, North Dakota State Seed Department regulatory manager. “Labeling laws protect both the labeler and the customer. Regardless of use, whether for crop production, cover crop, pollinator habitat or forage production, all seed must be labeled.”

These various tests on seed varieties let producers know which would best be suited for their fields and operation, by listing the results on the seed’s label. Producers value this information due to the initial cost of purchasing seed.

“The consumer who is spending quite a lot of money should have some assurance of what they're purchasing. Those assurances would be purity of the seed, such as how much pure seed do you have, does it have any weeds, things like that. Then it has to be tested for germination, to find out the seeds' germination rate,” Goltz said.

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These labels also prove to consumers that the labeler has conducted the necessary tests to ensure seed quality in their product and performed the needed tests to offer the seed for sale in the state of North Dakota. In order to achieve a legal label, the seeds have to go through proper testing. Buyers should beware of labeling, and not purchase seed that is not labeled. In addition, producers should steer away from sellers who promise to mail a seed label to them on a later date.

“Sometimes I may get a call and someone tells me they bought seed and it didn’t grow. My next question always is, ‘Do you have a copy of your label?’ and the statement may be ‘Well, I didn’t get one,’” Goltz said. “Well, if the seed was never labeled to start with, now we have a much larger problem. It’s more serious when people are selling seed and they didn’t bother to get it tested to start with.”

Examining seed labels can help determine which variety a producer should purchase. Goltz shared that the majority of producers focus on the germination percentage, weeds and seed count. However, the origin of the seed is equally important. The label should state where the seed comes from, the seller has their contact information listed and a lot number. The origin is required by North Dakota state law to be on the label.

“The most important thing is consumers just need to make sure they are getting a label that has the information which is required. If they ever have any questions, they are more than welcome to contact me and I can walk them through it,” Goltz said.