“Every seedsman, before selling seed in Mississippi, must secure an annual permit in order to sell seed and do business,” said James Smith, “and permits are valid for one year and expire June 30.”
Smith, Seed Lab Director for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Bureau of Plant Industry, offered an overview on Mississippi seed laws at the recent Mississippi State University Seed Technology Short Course.
The Mississippi Pure Seed Law and Regulations state that all seed in excess of 5 percent of the whole must be labeled with both the kind and variety. A variety is characterized by growth, plant, fruit, seed, or other characteristics which can be distinguished in following generations.
“Some examples of variety are Dixie Crimson Clover, Gulf Annual Ryegrass, and 01058733 Soybeans, but brands cannot be used as a substitute for the variety. The exceptions of varieties having to be stated are Southern peas, oats, and wheat, but you can sell mixed oats, mixed Saouthern peas, and mixed wheat,” he said.
The main aspect to remember when it comes to the lot number, which is defined as a certain quantity of seed, is the bigger your lot is, the more you can expose yourself to a potential problem.
“Remember, the larger the lot, the more variation you will have,” Smith said.
All seed is required to have the net weight on the label; however, some seeds are sold by seed count. If the seed count is on the label, it can be checked for “truth in labeling,” so the seed count must be within limit when checked or a stop sale will occur.
“We require a state of origin to be listed or country if the seed is not grown in the United States,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of labels in the last year that just have the origin as the USA, but we need the state listed as well.”
Requirements by percentage
Smith said that the pure seed percentage must be labeled for all components over 5 percent.
“We see a lot of wildlife mixes with components labeled down below 1 percent,” he said. “Pure seed, inert matter, other crop seed, and weed seed are also labeled as percent by weight. Weed seed must be under 1 percent to be sold in Mississippi. The label needs to be large enough that all information present can be easily read.”
As a part of label requirements, the percentage of germination exclusive of hard or firm (dormant) seeds must also be included as well as the percentage of hard seed and the percentage of firm (dormant) seed, if present.
“All agricultural seed sold in the state of Mississippi must have a combined germination and hard or dormant seed of 60 percent except for dallisgrass, which is a minimum 25 percent pure live seed.” Smith said.
Another requirement is the calendar month and year the germination test was completed; the test date is only good for nine months.
“We also can’t sell anything that has a prohibited weed seed in it, and that includes all Crotalaria species, field bindweed, hedge bindweed, serrated tussock, and tropical soda apple,” he said. “Currently, we do have hemp on our prohibited list, but once legislation changes on hemp, that will change. There are also restricted noxious weed seed that must be labeled by name and number per pound. The sum total of restricted noxious weed seed cannot exceed 200 per pound and must be within the limits given for each individual weed.”
Details and caution statements
The name and address, or the registered code number, of the person who labeled the seed, or who sells, offers, or exposes the seed for sale within the state, has to be included on the label.
A treated seed label requires a statement in no less than eight-point type to indicate if the seed has been treated.
“The caution statement depends on what kind of treatment it is, but seed treated with mercurials or similarly toxic substances must be labeled with a statement such as poison, poison treated, or treated with poison. Also, the label should show skull and crossbones at least twice the size used for the name of the substance and be in red,” said Smith.
For seed treated with other harmful substances — and the amount remaining with the seed is harmful to humans or animals — there should be a caution statement such as, “Do not use for food, feed, or oil.”
When it comes to coated or encrusted seed, the coating material percentage must be accounted for on the label either as part of the inert matter or as a separate line item.
“When in doubt,” Smith said, “we are here to help people with questions about seed law requirements and any other seed related issues.”