In this edition of SGS North America Crop Science News:

  • Accelerated Seed Testing for North American Cross Border Exports

SGS boasts an unmatched array of North American accreditations to support our Canadian and American seed industry clients, helping these customers transport seed for packaged sales and seed multiplication throughout the world. SGS Canada’s laboratory in Sherwood Park, Alberta now compliments the seed testing and sampler services of the SGS flagship US laboratory in Brookings, South Dakota, which have both been officially accredited by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). The ISTA accreditation strengthens our commitment to seed quality evaluation and innovation, further strengthening our position as genuine market leaders in this space.

International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) Seed Analysis

With ISTA-accredited laboratories in both the United States and Canada, our experts are now ready to issue seed analysis certificates and provide first-class seed sampler training. International seed analysis certificates fall into two categories: Orange International Certificates (OIC) or Blue International Certificates (BIC). The OIC is the gold star of importation standards, because a representative sample can only be drawn from the sealed lot by an ISTA-authorized sampler. Therefore, with the OIC, the responsibility for sampling lies with the ISTA Laboratory. With the BIC, however, the clients are responsible for all sampling and the sampling does not need to be completed by an ISTA-authorized sampler. In the event an ISTA-authorized sampler is not available, and the importer’s requirements are flexible, following the BIC methods will generally suffice. Shippers are advised to explore the import requirements well in advance. These may include phytosanitary testing, a commercial invoice, an import permit, and more. European Union (EU) Grade Reports may also be requested from SGS Sherwood Park – for instance, these are needed frequently for grass species.

Our full scope of ISTA testing includes:

  • Purity
  • Other Seed Determination
  • Germination
  • Viability
  • Moisture Content Determination
  • Seed Weight Determination
  • Sampling
  • Vigor Testing (SGS Brookings)

International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) Sampler Training

There’s one mandatory component required for successful OIC certification: the training and authorization of seed company personnel as ISTA-Authorized Samplers. SGS Sherwood Park and SGS Brookings deliver in-depth ISTA-based workshop training, including both theoretical webinars and practical, hands-on elements. The workshop curriculum covers the OECD Schemes, ISTA Rules, and is applicable for sampling an extensive variety of plant species. As new and updated ISTA Rules are released each calendar year, SGS conducts annual reviews and audits of authorized samplers to ensure competency.

APHIS Seed Testing for Importation into the United States

The Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for protecting U.S. agriculture from unwelcome pests and diseases. Therefore, the agency is in charge of mandating and monitoring all seed shipments into the U.S.A.SGS Sherwood Park leads the seed testing industry when it comes to producing APHIS reports on forage and grass species shipped from Canada to the U.S.A., providing unrivaled speed and proficiency. These reports evaluate specific volumes of seed by crop species, testing samples for the presence of federal noxious weeds. Upon successful completion of the tests, the required Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) document will then be issued by SGS Sherwood Park. Clients shipping to the U.S.A. often require seed examination that follows the rules stipulated by the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA), which can be ordered at the same time as APHIS testing. These protocols are widely accepted in the U.S. and closely follow ISTA standards for seed testing.

Seed Import Conformity Assessment (SICA) for Importation into Canada

In Canada, the arrival of spring brings with it an increased focus on successfully regrowing disturbed land (such as lawns or even golf course turf) that was adversely affected by the cold winter weather or establishing new landscapes. However, much of the retail grass seed products used in Canada are first blended and packaged in the U.S.A. Each component species within the blend must be tested thoroughly at SGS Brookings, where they are assessed on how suitable they are to import. Once compliance with all federal and regional regulations is confirmed by the exporter and the authorized importer assigns the assessors, SGS Sherwood Park staff review the Seed Analysis Report against regulations set out in Canada’s Seeds Act and Regulations. This documentation review, known as a Seed Import Conformity Assessment (SICA), is accredited, and monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.