Selecting seed is one of the most important decisions growers will make for the next season. The Mississippi State Seed Lab aims to protect farmers by conducting scientific tests to evaluate labels, quality and certification standards.
The Mississippi State Seed Lab, which is a part of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce Bureau of Plant Industry, is nationally renowned for its services. To provide assurance for growers as they make seed decisions, the lab tests seed samples submitted by seed companies, retailers and individuals. Soybeans are the second most common seed tested at the lab.
“We are first and foremost a regulatory laboratory. Secondly, we are a certification lab and a service lab,” said James Smith, seed lab director.
All tests performed at the lab follow Association of Official Seed Analysts rules. These rules establish specific criteria for physical exams of seed, methods for germinating seed and conducting vigor tests. But before any tests can be completed, samples must be carefully received and processed.
Samples can be delivered to the lab in person or through the mail. Once at the lab, each sample is given an identification number specific to its lab entry. After samples receive lab identification codes, they are put through the following tests.
- Purity analysis testing consists of sorting the contents of each sample. The pure seed is separated from inert matter (such as damaged seeds, soil, insects and other foreign objects), other crop seeds, and weed seeds. A noxious weed seed exam is performed to determine if any noxious weeds are present and if so, the identity and rate of occurrence of these weeds.
- Germination tests are completed using AOSA guidelines for each species. AOSA prescribes a growing and moistening media for each species as well as temperatures the tests are performed at and the length of the test.
- Accelerated aging tests help seed companies, retailers and farmers determine how well seed will store over winter and how well the seed will germinate if planted the following spring. This process submits seeds to high temperature and high humidity conditions for a short period of time to rapidly age the seed. Standard germination tests are then performed and evaluated.
When regulatory tests are performed, the results are compared to the claims on the label. If these results are not within the tolerances prescribed in the AOSA rules, a stop sale is issued. The stop-sale mandates that all batches of the seed be taken off the market until it is re-labeled, if the violation is minor, or removed from sale for serious violations. In the spring of 2019, Smith issued over 70 stop-sale orders.
Following a normal harvest season, Smith issues only one or two stop-sale orders on soybeans, and he does not expect to issue more than that this year unless seed-producing areas experience adverse weather conditions. Soybean populations are a very important part of your crop’s success, and stop-sale orders are one way that the lab helps to protect them.
“At the end of the day, we are here to protect farmers by making sure they get what they are expecting and what they’re paying for,” said Smith.
Mississippi growers have the opportunity to submit one sample per species each year for free testing. Results can be expected via email within 10 to 14 days after the samples arrive at the lab for most crops.
MSPB encourages farmers and retailers to use this service with their soybeans.
Contact Information for the Mississippi State Seed Lab:
P.O. Box 5207
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Bureau of Plant Industry
Robert H. McCarty Bldg.
705 Stone Blvd.
Mississippi State, MS 39762