Seed Tags

Three basic types of tags can be found on seed bags:

1.  Certification tags
2.  Analysis tags
3.  Treat tags

It is important that the producer retain the tags from each lot of planting seed.

Certification Tags

Good crop production begins with high-quality planting seed. Standards may vary from crop to crop, but a certification tag on a bag of seed is the symbol of quality. It assures the purchaser that the seed inside the bag is the variety stated and it has met the standards for germination and purity.

Each class of certified seed is associated with a colored seed tag. Certified seed tags are blue, registered are purple, and foundation tags are white.


The certification class refers to the number of generations away from the original variety that was developed by the plant breeder. The first class is Breeder – the seed provided by the breeder of the new plant variety. Progeny from Breeder seed is the Foundation class, or one generation removed from Breeder seed. The Registered class is progeny of Foundation seed, and two generations removed. The final class is Certified, and it may be the progeny of Registered seed or Foundation seed. This is the seed most generally available to farmers. The progeny of Certified seed must enter the commodity market and may not be used for planting seed. This system ensures that planting seed is mostly free of genetic and physical contamination.

Information provided on the certification tag includes class of certification, kind of crop, variety, lot number, and name and address of the owner. The certification class is stated and color-coded.

The foundation seed “white tag” appears only on seed that has been inspected in the field and meets purity standards for foundation seed. Foundation seed is priced higher than commercial seed since it is a premier grade and intended for increase and not commercial production

Lot number is for identification purposes and is used to trace seed to its originator.  Lot number allows seed to be traced back to a specific grower and field.  The producer whose name and address appears on the tag may or may not be the actual grower, but is the party responsible for seed contained in the bag.

Analysis Tags

All seed sold must have an analysis tag. Some certification tags also contain the analysis, but others contain only the basic information and there must be a separate analysis tag attached to the bag. The analysis tag that accompanies the certification tag provides information on the quality factors of the crop seed. A grower should read both labels to determine whether the seed meets his purity and germination requirements.

Items included on the analysis tag are kind and variety, lot number, percent pure seed, percent other crop seed, percent inert matter, percent weed seeds, germination percentage, and date of test.  Other items that may be present on the analysis, depending on crop and situation, are percent noxious weed seed, percent dormant or hard seed, and pure live seed.

Kind and variety refer to the crop and stated variety.

Lot number should also be identified with the seed lab test used to provide the purity and germination of the seed.

Pure seed is the percent of the variety named in the bag.  A high pure seed percentage is desirable.

Other crop seed is the percent of crop seed not named on the tag.  Many times seed may become mechanically mixed during harvesting, storing and processing, or through field contamination. A low other crop percentage is desirable.

Inert matter refers to the percent of dirt, sand, stones, sticks, glumes, stems, broken seed, etc.  Inert matter contributes nothing to crop yield but may create planting problems.

Crops such as some grasses contain a relatively high percentage of chaff and empty florets, and thus may be marketed on the basis of pure live seed [PLS].

PLS = pure seed x [germination + dormant or hard seed]/100

Weed seeds in the seed should be very low.  Any prohibited noxious weeds in the bag will stop sale of the seed.

Germination is important to getting a stand.  Test date is important, as normally a reported germination is reliable for six to nine months. The analysis tag will show the percent of pure seed that will produce normal plants under favorable field conditions.  Producers should look for high germination and high pure seed when purchasing seed.  PLS can be used to determine the seeding rate necessary for an acceptable stand.

Hard or dormant seed is live seed that requires a longer time to germinate.

Seed count describes the number of seeds per unit. Seed count claims help producers decide how many bags of seed they need to buy for the acres they are going to plant.

Treat Tags

When seeds are treated with poisonous substances such as fungicides or insecticides, the law requires that the bag be labeled to indicate this treatment. The treat tag will note the treatment used.

NOTE: The treat tags shown below are for example only. They do not necessarily imply endorsement of the product.


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