What is Pedigreed Seed
Pedigreed Seed is pure, true-to-type seed of a known variety, developed for a specific purpose. True-to-type means that all the benefits developed by the plant breeder are retained as the seed is multiplied from the small amounts developed by the plant breeder through to certified seed, which can be used for commercial production. Seed purity refers to sample quality with respect to weed seeds, inert material (gravel, chaff, fungal bodies, etc.) and number of off-type seeds, as defined by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Varietal purity of 99 per cent must be maintained before the seed can be classified as pedigreed.

Who are Seed Growers
Seed Growers are skilled producers who transfer the technology contained in seed from one generation to the next without allowing impurities or contamination from other varieties or crops. The production of a seed crop must follow strict regulations as set out by the Canadian Seed Growers Association, which is designated in federal Seeds Regulations as the official authority for certifying the pedigree of all agricultural seed crops in Canada (except potatoes). There are about 4,500 seed growers across the country, 20% of whom are in Saskatchewan.

How can I become a Seed Grower
A producer who wants to become a seed grower begins by purchasing pedigreed seed of the variety he or she wishes to produce and plants it according to rules and regulations outlined in Circular 6. The land on which the crop is planted must also be eligible to produce a seed crop. To produce a pedigreed crop of a cereal variety, it is necessary to plant seed of Foundation or Registered class; forage crops require planting of Breeder or Foundation Seed. A field which was planted with Certified seed is NOT a pedigreed crop.

After the crop has been planted, the grower applies for field inspection. If all the regulations have been followed and verified by a CFIA inspector, a Crop Certificate is issued and the crop can be harvested. The seed must then be conditioned by a Registered Seed Establishment, according to regulations under the Seeds Act, graded by authorized personnel, tested by an accredited laboratory, and the appropriate pedigreed seed tag is applied.

For more information, visit http://seedgrowers.ca/seed-growers/getting-started-in-seed-production/

How can I become a Select Grower
A Select Grower is a highly qualified seed grower who is eligible to produce seed of higher generations, from which Foundation or Registered Seed is produced. A grower qualifies to produce Select Seed by having three successful years of seed production in the previous five, at which time they can apply to the Canadian Seed Growers Association for Select Status. If CSGA approves, the grower then serves a further three-year probation period, and if successful, becomes a Select Grower. Special regulations govern the production of Select Seed. It may not be sold or transferred and may only be used by the grower to produce Select, Foundation or Registered Seed.

What is the difference between common seed and bin run seed
Common Seed is a recognized grade under Canada’s Seeds Act, and as such must meet certain standards and be labelled with the proper tag. Because the standards for common seed, including purity, are less than those for Certified, it cannot legally be identified by variety name. Bin-run seed is just commercial grain that a farmer re-plants to get another crop.

What does “conditioning seed” mean?
“Conditioning”involves the removal of impurities, foreign material, undersized or damaged seeds, etc. so that the remaining seed meets strict standards set by the federal government. Only those conditioning plants authorized and accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and qualified operators and graders are allowed to condition pedigreed seed. All pedigreed seed must be conditioned, and meet minimum standards before it is allowed to be classified as pedigreed.

How much does pedigreed seed cost?
The price of pedigreed seed varies, depending on the crop kind, variety, status of pedigree and availability of the seed. It costs $2-$3 per acre and $3-$5 per bushel to produce a seed crop, over and above production costs.

These extra costs are to pay for royalties for the development of the variety; levies to the companies who own the distribution rights; fees for third party inspections and monitoring to ensure every step of the production is done properly; costs for seed conditioning; lab tests to ensure quality; member fees to Canadian and Saskatchewan Seed Grower Associations; federal government fees; additional labour costs for hand cleaning fields, equipment, bins or anything else that may come in contact with the seed.

In addition, only certain land is eligible to produce a seed crop and meticulous records must be kept for each step in the process, affecting crop rotations and adding to administration costs. Failure to meet any of the standards usually results in the crop being demoted to commercial grain status, and if that happens, most of the extra costs incurred aren’t refundable or recoverable.