——— WHAT’S IN A BAG? ———
When you buy a bag of seed, you get a lot of information – all of which is important. By looking at the bag, reading the label, and working with your local seed dealer, you can be assured that you’re getting the best product possible to meet your individual needs. While information can vary based upon the type of seed—for example, vegetable vs. field crop–here’s what most states require on a seed labeling, and what it means for you. Click the icon next to each term on the bag to learn more:
The brand name and/or species name.
Percentage by weight of the desired seed(s) based on the entire contents of the bag. It’s important to note that coatings can sometimes impact the weight of the seed.
Other Crop Seed
Percent by weight of a crop that is not the labeled crop seed. Some types of seed (for example, alfalfa and timothy) are blended on purpose. Generally, If the amount is over 5% those species are considered “pure seed” and are to be listed by name. In some cases those species present at 5% or less may also be listed as Pure Seed if so desired by the seller.
The percentage by weight of weed seeds, unless by law they are considered restricted noxious weed seeds in the state where the seed is sold. Any restricted noxious weed seeds must be listed individually by name and are limited to the amount allowed by state law (usually around 0.25%). Prohibited noxious weed seeds are not allowed in any amount.
The percentage by weight of whatever is in the package that doesn’t grow (i.e. broken seed that are half or less what was originally there, seed coats, insects, etc.).
A unique number so that the seed can be traced to its origin.
The percentage of seed in the bag that is expected to grow (based on a lab test).
Month and date that this lot was tested (normally needs to be within last nine months). The date of the standard germination test must be listed, even if it is different from the dates of other tests done.
Coatings generally used to enhance germination, protect the seed, or assist in growth.
State or country where the seed was grown.
The contact information for the company providing the seed.
*Additional information may be included about Intellectual Property protections. This can be found on the label, the bag, your license and/or the seller’s website.
For more information, visit:
- A Guide to Understanding Seed Tags (USDA)
- Understanding Seed Labels (NC Cooperative Extension)
- A Simplified Guide to Understanding Seed Labels (USDA)
- Understanding a Turfgrass Seed Label (University of Massachusetts)
- Laws, Regulations, and Other Considerations When Buying Seed
- What’s Behind the Label on a Bag of Seed