Blue Tag – The Owners Manual


If your crop isn’t performing as expected, check the Owner’s Manual – if you have one.

It’s that Blue Tag that came with your Pedigreed seed. It provides the key to complete documentation about the seed and everywhere its ancestors have been, right back to the plant breeder who developed the variety.

There are two stages in the production and certification of Pedigreed seed. The first involves field production of the seed crop, according to standards set by the Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA). The second starts after harvest and includes conditioning, testing and grading of the seed, under regulations set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The Blue Tag contains the information for both stages and contains links to where the seed originated, who grew it, what field it was grown in, where it was processed, what variety it is, how well it will germinate, and more. And it’s all verified by third parties.


The first three lines of data on the tag contain the information that most producers want to know: Crop Kind, Variety Name and Grade. The last two sections, “Crop Certificate No.” and “Lot No.” provide the paper trail – and the proof.

The 12-digit Crop Certificate number spells out the history and varietal identity of the seed crop (first stage). The first two digits represent the year the crop was produced; the next pair indicates the province where it was grown; and the next five digits identify the individual grower who produced it. The third last number represents the class of the seed, and the last two digits indicate the sequential number of crop certificates issued to the grower in that crop year.

So if the Crop Certificate number on the tag is “05-7033222-403”, the farmer knows the seed was produced in 2005 (05) in Saskatchewan (70) by grower number 33222. It’s Certified (4) and this is the third Crop Certificate issued to the grower that year (03).

The Lot number reflects the second stage, and verifies seed grade, quality, mechanical purity and germination. The first few digits identify the plant that processed the seed. The next section indicates the province, and the final series of numbers are used by the processor to identify the seed lot. If the tag Lot No. is “1234-8-56789” the farmer knows that plant No. 1234, located in Saskatchewan (8) conditioned, graded, sealed and labelled seed lot number 56789, and the seed is from that lot.


Pedigreed seed can only be processed by qualified operators through an authorized plant. Once processed, representative samples are sent to an accredited seed laboratory and tested for germination and mechanical purity (and disease, if applicable). A Certificate of Analysis is issued by the lab and the grade can then be applied, based on standards prescribed by CFIA. The farmer has up to a year to request a copy of that analysis from the seed seller, who must provide it to him within 30 days of the request.

The Canadian Seed Institute (CSI) accredits cleaning plants, labs, operators, graders and technicians. CSGA and CSI monitor the seed industry, and in turn are monitored by CFIA. Thousands of samples are independently checked every year to ensure all the Blue Tag information is accurate and the paper work is in place to prove it.

One small Blue Tag.

Five lines of data.

Complete documentation of your seed’s history.

That’s quite an Owner’s Manual.