What we do
It all starts with seed…
Canada’s food system produces some of the highest quality, most globally trusted agricultural products in the world. But none of this would be possible without the right foundation: high-quality, clean and genetically enhanced pedigreed seed.
Pedigreed seed is the starting point for Canadian crops, which produce food, feed and value-added products for Canada and the world.
Pedigreed seed is certified through the Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA). As the regulatory agency of the Canada Seeds Act, the CSGA represents 3500 seed growers and monitors and certifies seed for agricultural field crops in Canada (except potatoes). Seed Growers in Canada produce some of the highest quality seed in the world using a world-renowned Quality Assurance Identity Preserved system. CSGA also represents 128 seed companies and a broad cross-section of Canadian businesses that develop, produce, sell and export seed.
Pedigreed seed presents several advantages for farmers and end-users, as it is high quality, traceable and genetically pure seed.
Alberta Seed Growers (ASG) is one of seven provincial or branch associations that serve as a communication link with our national organization, the CSGA. Our role at ASG is to provide marketing and advocacy for our members locally, regionally and nationally. Alberta is a key player in Canada’s seed industry – we account for more than a quarter of Canada’s pedigreed seed acres.
Alberta Seed Growers focus:
✔ Foster an environment of education and readily available technology to make sure that farmers are using seed that is of the highest quality and traceable throughout the value chain
✔ Promote Alberta’s seed growers using print and digital communication tools
✔ Provide Alberta’s seed growers with resources and representation to ensure they have access to the top genetics and beneficial management practices
✔ Bring the industry together through events where members of the value chain can network, collaborate, and work toward common goals
What is pedigreed seed?
When plant breeders develop new crop varieties, they produce only a small amount of seed for the new variety. That seed is considered “pedigreed seed” because it produces a pure, uniform crop that is true-to-type, meaning it contains all the improved benefits and characteristics the plant breeder intended for the variety. Each new pedigreed variety must be registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for commercial use in Canada.
In order to generate enough pedigreed seed for farmers to grow a commercial variety for retail markets and the food processing industry, it needs to be multiplied over several generations.
What is a certified seed grower?
That is where the “certified seed grower” comes in. Certified seed growers purchase a small quantity of pedigreed seed from the plant breeder or a variety distributor. Using their expertise in crop management and agronomics, they multiply it for one or more generations to generate quantities large enough to sell for commercial production.
Alberta’s certified seed growers follow stringent guidelines and regulations in order to maintain the genetic purity and quality of the seed. This includes growing a probationary crop for three years and passing a third-party inspection each time. A seed grower must pass the mandatory third-party inspection for three probationary years, to become certified as a seed grower. Any field of pedigreed seed that doesn’t pass the mandatory third-party inspection will go into the commercial market at a lower retail value.
What is certified seed?
Certified seed is seed that has followed very strict protocols and has been rigorously tested, as per Canadian seed system regulations, to ensure it retains its varietal and genetic benefits, purity and quality.
Any seed that is labelled “certified” has been:
- Purchased as pedigreed seed from a plant breeder or seed distributor with identifiable traits or characteristics
- Planted with equipment that has been meticulously cleaned between crop types and varieties, on a field with documented crop history
- Managed with proper separation distances to similar crop types
- Rogued by hand to remove volunteer weeds and genetic off-types
- Inspected by a third-party, in the field
- Harvested by equipment that has been meticulously cleaned between crop types and varieties
- Tested to uphold quality standards
- Verified by a CSGA-certified authority (where it came from, who grew it and how it was grown)
- Assigned a traceable seed certificate or blue tag
Certified seed premiums
Certified seed takes great effort to produce. Each step listed above requires additional time and resources, which in turn adds expense to the process. Producing certified seed may also require a royalty to be paid to the plant breeder of the seed. This is why certified seed comes at a premium cost.
Alberta farmers are investing in certified seed, despite the higher cost, because they realize the economic and agronomic benefits it provides them in the long run. Certified seed can also benefit the entire value chain, by creating higher quality (identity preserved) products that end users are willing to pay for.
Why use certified seed?
Certified seed is being purchased and used by Canadian farmers as a way to ensure the quality of their final product and strengthen their businesses.
Benefits for farmers
- Financial benefits: Certified seed’s superior genetics have the potential to improve yields and end quality, providing a proven financial benefit for your farm.
- Consistency: The genetic purity of the seed provides consistent quality traits in crop production, allowing farmers to produce uniformly clean, high-quality products.
- Traceability: Certified seed gives farmers documentable proof of the origins of the seed, as well as third-party assurance the product was grown to their specifications.
- New marketing options: Certified seed is in demand worldwide, meaning farmers can enjoy access to premium markets and new opportunities.
- Reduced crop risk: Because certified seed comes with improved production potential such as insect and disease resistance benefits resulting in increased yield.
Benefits for food processors
Food processors/manufacturers are increasingly seeking crops grown from certified seed to use as ingredients in food products, as they offer a number of benefits.
- Financial gains: Because certified seed crops are proven to be of consistent quality, food processors can charge a premium for products that include these ingredients.
- Quality assurance: Starting with the best, most consistent ingredients available is the foundation of quality foods.
- Marketability: Using pedigreed seed allows food processors to market their products as premium, which is increasingly important to today’s health conscious and food savvy consumers.
- Traceability: Pedigreed seed gives food processors documentable proof of the origins of the seed, as well as third-party assurance the product was grown to their specifications.
How malting barley certified seed benefits the entire value chain
What we do It all starts with seed… Canada’s food system produces some of the highest quality, most globally trusted agricultural products in the world. But none of this would be possible
Organic Seed Producers Directory: Connecting Seed Growers and Buyers
Organic Seed Alliance is thrilled to announce the launch of our new Organic Seed Producers Directory. The easy-to-use online tool was created to help connect organic seed producers with seed companies and wholesale seed buyers.
Seed producers are invited to create a profile in the new directory so wholesale purchasers can connect with them. Creating a profile helps growers who want businesses to contact them to buy their wholesale quantities of seed, or who want seed companies to contact them to grow wholesale quantities of seed on contract.
Companies looking for wholesale seed can use the new directory to find farmers who are already growing organic seed for wholesale or are interested in contracting with companies to do so. The tool includes filter functions and a map to make searching for seed producers easy.
How to create a profile in the directory
We invite seed producers to visit the Organic Seed Producers Directory and create yours today! Creating a profile only takes a few minutes.
- Step 1: You’ll be prompted to enter some basic contact information, and to create a username and password.
- Step 2: Next, enter details about your farm or organization. Though it’s not required, we strongly encourage you to provide a brief description of your operation when prompted.
- Step 3: To complete your profile, you’ll select from a provided list of crop families that you have experience growing, and share a few additional details about your operation.
Questions about the directory or ideas on improvements?
Email Jared Zystro at [email protected] with any questions about the new Organic Seed Producers Directory or ideas on how to improve it to better meet your needs.
The new Organic Seed Producers Directory has a filter function and location map for easy searching.
Cathleen McCluskey is the outreach director at Organic Seed Alliance. Cathleen supports OSA communications, and coordination of regional and national outreach efforts, and is the chair of the biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference.
The Organic Seed Producers Directory is an online tool created to connect organic seed growers with seed companies and wholesale seed buyers.