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When prices are poor, cutting corners on inputs can be temptingWhen prices are poor, cutting corners on inputs can be tempting

Selling, planting illegal seed can turn out to be a costly mistake.

Walt Davis 1

January 2, 2017

2 Min Read
NEED FOR RESEARCH: Companies such as Syngenta, which recently settled a Plant Variety Protection violation with a Kansas grower, spend millions of dollars to bring new varieties to market.

In a year of bad prices, like 2016, it is really tempting for farmers to cut costs wherever they possibly can, and that makes it more tempting to plant illegal seed.

"Even in good years, we are getting only about 25% to 30% of the acres in Kansas planted with certified seed," says Daryl Strouts, executive director of the Kansas Wheat Alliance, the commercialization and marketing arm for new varieties released by Kansas State University wheat breeders. "The rest is saved seed or illegal seed."

He says there is a lot of ignorance out there, and it is possible for farmers to unknowingly violate the Plant Variety Protection Act that prohibits the sale of uncertified seed for planting.

Saving seed from your own crop to plant in the fall is legal, Strouts says, as long as you legally purchased the seed in the first place.

"You can buy and plant certified seed one year and legally save the progeny from that crop to plant the next year," he says.

Buying seed from your neighbor to plant on your farm is illegal if it is a variety protected by the PVPA, which includes all varieties, both public and private, that were released within the last 20 years.

"You can legally grow and sell varieties where the PVPA has expired," Strouts says. "As of the summer of 2016, that includes Jagger."

Jagger was one of the most popular of Kansas varieties, but much of its resistance package has been defeated over the last two decades, and newer varieties offer better yields and a healthier crop. Jagger remains one of the most popular parent lines for breeders developing new varieties.

There is a checklist for farmers who are uncertain if the seed they are about to plant is legal.

First of all, if you grew it, you're in the clear.

If you bought it, make sure that every bag has a blue tag that denotes it is certified seed. If you bought in bulk, there should be a blue tag on your paperwork showing that the purchase is certified seed.

"I always advise producers to hold onto those blue tags in case anyone questions their planting," Strouts says.



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