Foundation seed stocks and certified seed

Farm Forum

Having just received the annual “Spring Foundation Seed inventory and price list” in the mail, it seemed like a good time to review these programs and their benefits. When plant breeders develop a crop variety that survives the vigorous testing program and is deemed worthy of release, Breeder seed is supplied to the Foundation Seed Stocks Division (FSSD), increased, inspected by the S.D. Crop Improvement Association (SDCIA) and then distributed to SDCIA members and Seed Trade members on a priority basis as Foundation seed. Foundation seed is planted by the growers, the progeny of which is generally registered seed, which is usually planted the following year by the Certified Seed Grower, and the crop it produces is then made available for sale as Certified Seed to commercial growers. In some crops and varieties, the registered class is absent.

Certified seed is highly recommended for commercial growers due to its genetic purity, known germination, absence of weed seeds, freedom from disease, and quality. Planting Certified Seed provides a commercial crop producer the best opportunity to take advantage of the yield potential, disease resistance and other desirable qualities of the variety they are growing. Seed borne diseases have caused considerable yield losses in recent years, and the rigorous field and seed inspections that certified seed must pass ensure that it is free of those pathogens.

The adoption of hybrid seed production and glyphosate resistant technology in several of the major crops has limited the majority of the foundation and certified seed in South Dakota to spring and winter wheat, oats, non-Roundup Ready soybeans, millet, grasses, and several minor crops. Any crop producer can become a certified seed producer, but it does take extra attention to detail, bin space, organizational skills and cleanliness compared to commercial crop production. For more information, visit the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association and Seed Certification website ( or call them at 605-688-4604.

And about that Spring Foundation Seed inventory and price list, one new spring wheat variety, Focus, has been released for planting in 2015, along with Prevail, a variety new in 2014, and ten other varieties released in recent years. Natty and Hayden are the two new oat varieties released for 2015, joining four other varieties on the foundation offering, plus one hull-less oat. Four Non-Roundup Ready public soybean varieties are available, along with one switchgrass variety and two millet lines. Existing Crop Improvement Association members receive a Spring Foundation Seed inventory and price list like I did, but anyone can access the information online at ( If a grower wants to obtain a variety of foundation seed that is not on the list, contact SDCIA.

The SDCIA publishes a Certified Winter Wheat Directory each August, and when the information on spring seeded crops is available, combines the two for a complete S.D. Certified Seed Grower Directory. This document is the bible for commercial growers looking for certified seed as it contains information on the variety characteristics, who grew foundation, registered and certified seed, how many acres, and their contact information. Yield, test weight and agronomic characteristics for all of the crops tested in South Dakota are available at