Quality seed: The phrase “quality seed” is at times used in place of certified seed or QDS to describe a quality-assured seed source, without specifying certified or QDS.
This post provides go-to definitions Context Global Development uses in discussing the early generation seed systems from across the globe that were reviewed by USAID and BMGF. The definitions were sourced from an Africa Lead commissioned study, sponsored by USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, to determine pathways for promoting the commercial and sustainable production and delivery of early generation seed (EGS) of selected food crops.
Breeder seed: Breeder seed is produced by or under the direction of the plant breeder who selected the variety. During breeder seed production, the breeder or an official representative of the breeder selects individual plants to harvest based on the phenotype of the plants. Breeder seed is produced under the highest level of genetic control to ensure the seed is genetically pure and accurately represents the variety characteristics identified by the breeder during variety selection.
Quality Declared seed: In 1993 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) produced and published specific crop guidelines as Plant Production and Protection Paper No. 117 Quality Declared Seed – Technical guidelines on standards and procedures. The Quality Declared Seed (QDS) system is a seed-producer implemented system for production of seed that meets a minimum standard of quality but does not entail a formal inspection by the official seed certification system. The intent behind the QDS system is to provide farmers with the assurance of seed quality while reducing the inspection burden on government agencies responsible for seed certification. The QDS system is considered to be part of the formal seed system.
Emerging early generation seed systems
In one example, we discovered a seed variety that was being sold under both the Beck’s ® brand and the Supreme Ex ® brand (distributed by Seed Consultants, Inc). Same exact seed, different brands.
Thousands of farmers buy the exact same seeds marketed under different brands, but sometimes for radically different prices. Farmers Business Network℠ wants to make sure you know what you’re buying and getting the best deal.
Did you know the exact same seed can be sold under two names?
The impact on your bottom line can be very costly.
The average cost difference between the two in the same state? $68 a bag!
To participate, send your bag tag images to: [email protected] and type “Seed Bags” in the subject line. Members who send in their seed bag tags will receive an email response highlighting if there are any matches in the seed relabeling database for the varieties they sent in.
“I told one salesman, ‘You do realize I could buy this variety from 13 other companies?’ ” he says. “There are all sorts of different seed companies, but they are all getting their genetics from the same places.”
Different marketing and licensing reasons are why some companies use VNS terminology, says Andy LaVigne, American Seed Trade Association chief executive officer. He adds that farmers who wish to diversify their seed lineup may work with their seed companies to ensure they plant the best performing seed varieties. If they have a question about a variety that is labeled VNS, the seed company will provide the information to meet the farmers’ needs, LaVigne adds.
Some of the larger companies that generate original genetics and traits often will not license genetics from a flagship brand. FBN found no overlapping corn varieties out of 220 Pioneer (owned by Corteva Agriscience) seed tags submitted by farmer-members.
For Combs, the transparency brought by efforts like FBN’s report gives him the ability to better select seed and evaluate seed prices.
Prices aren’t the only factor that can differ between seed varieties sharing the same genetics. The Farmers Business Network (FBN) analysis found that when multiple brands sell the same variety, relative maturities differ 55% of the time.