Seed or plant certification is a system designed to preserve and maintain the genetic identity and purity of crop varieties. Four classes of seed are recognized in seed certification: Breeder, Foundation, Registered and Certified. These classes comprise a series of refereed multiplicative generations which make it possible to supply the needs of commercial growers. Each generation is handled so as to maintain the genetic purity and identity as designated by the Federal Seed Act and Texas Seed Law. These laws are enforced by the Texas Department of Agriculture, the official seed certifying agency in Texas. The Texas Department of Agriculture Seed Division inspects all seed production fields submitted for certification, and seed laboratories analyze seed samples to determine seed quality and germination.
Breeder seed is directly controlled by the originating or sponsoring plant breeding institution, firm or individual, and is the source for the production of seed of the certified classes. The next three classes of certified seed originate from breeder seed. Foundation seed is the progeny of breeder seed and must conform to state and federal standards for genetic purity and identity. Registered seed is the progeny of breeder or foundation seed and is used to produce certified seed. Certified seed is the progeny of the breeder, foundation, or registered seed and is used for commercial crop production.
Through the certification system, Texas farmers can be assured of obtaining adequate amounts of genetically pure crop seed. Without such a system, seed of new superior varieties would tend to become mixed and contaminated. They would lose their varietal identity and the particular characteristic that made them superior when they were released. Since operation under the rules and regulations of certification is voluntary, inspections are made and labels are issued to only those firms and individuals who may choose to qualify and are in a position to meet all requirements.