North Dakota Foundation Seedstocks


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Seed Production Handbook

Table of Contents

I. Seed Increase Planning

  • Breeder Seed
  • Foundation Seed
  • Seed Selection
  • Field Selection
  • Crop Management Practices
  • Harvesting
  • Storage
  • Conditioning
  • Seed Orders
  • Seed Pricing
  • Distribution
  • Control of Seed and Information

II. Production Practices

III. Harvesting, Conditioning and Storage

IV. Seed Sales and Distribution

V. Protection of Experimental Lines

VI. Transgenic and Conventional Soybean Procedures

VII. Listing of References


I. Seed Increase Planning

Breeder Seed

1. The Foundation Seedstocks Director (FSSD) communicates with the plant breeders to determine which experimental lines, in the pre-release stage, are to be initially increased as Breeder seed and the quantities involved.

2. Location of Breeder seed increases will be coordinated by FSSD, the plant breeder and Research Center Directors (RCD) involved. Varietal adaptability, RC production capability and land availability will be considered to determine the location(s) for the Breeder seed increases.

3. The FSSD coordinates the increase of experimental lines selected for Pre- Release as potential new varieties in conjunction with RCD. Increases may involve contract growers when suitable land is not available at an RC.

Foundation Seed

1. Production needs for Foundation seed will be established by a Planning Committee prior to December 31.

2. FSSD, ASF Director and RCD will consult and plan Foundation seed increases prior to the Spring Research Center Conference. Crops and varieties will be distributed to various stations based on availability of suitable land, variety adaptation, anticipated demand for the variety, expected yield and/or interest/capabilities of station personnel, etc.

3. Seed may also be required for special needs (i.e. Plant Scale Barley Malt Increases and Spring Wheat Quality Advisory Council Trials). Breeder seed for such purposes may not necessarily be of high genetic purity but should meet Foundation seed quality standards.


II. Production Practices

Seed Selection

1. Foundation seed may be produced from a seed lot previously certified as Foundation grade. However, all parental seed stock must be from the source of highest purity within the Foundation Seedstocks (FSS ) system.

2. FSS and/or ASF will maintain an on-going purification program for most North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station (NDAES) and NDSU Research Foundation (NDSURF) varieties. Repurified seed will serve as the seed source whenever possible.

3. The FSSD coordinates purification of other varieties or experimental lines not originally purified by FSS or ASF. Repurified seed of varieties developed by other states will be coordinated by FSSD.

Field Selection

1. Seed fields should meet certification standards, have high production potential and be suitable for increase of the variety or experimental line. The field should be free of prohibited noxious weeds, restricted noxious weeds or other objectionable weeds which have seeds that are difficult to separate from the crop during seed conditioning. See ND Seed Certification Standards.

2. Seed fields must not have been planted in the previous year to the same kind of crop or to other crops which would be inseparable during seed conditioning. A field may be replanted to the same variety for a second year under special circumstances providing Breeder seed or Foundation seed had been planted in the first year and any off-type plants or other crop species were not noted during field certification. FSS must be notified for approval of any exceptions.

3. A cropping history must be maintained for each seed field and kept on record for a minimum of six years. The field history should include: crop, variety, fertility, weed/insect/disease problems, pesticide applications, etc.

4. Fields under No-Till practices should be considered marginal for Breeder seed or Foundation seed production.

Crop Management Practices

1. Four-year rotations shall be the minimum interval between varieties of the same or similar crops whenever possible. Unusual circumstances may require rotations beyond four years.

2. Varieties must be isolated from other crops or varieties in accordance with North Dakota Seed Certification Standards (Bulletin No. 51).

3. Tillage, seedbed preparation and herbicide applications must be adequate to destroy any weeds or volunteer crop species prior to emergence of the crop. If minimum-tillage practices are used, the seedbed must be free of all volunteer plants. No-till practices are not appropriate for Breeder and Foundation seed production.

4. All seed increase fields should be soil tested and fertilized in accordance with NDSU recommendations for the anticipated potential yield based on the previous crop grown and current environmental conditions.

5. If composted animal manure is applied, careful inspection of the field is required. Application of non-composted animal manure on land to be planted for Breeder or Foundation seed production is strongly discouraged.

6. Granular fertilizers applied to seed fields should be inspected for any crop seed ontamination. Any fertilizer contaminated with crop seeds should be returned to the supplier or applied to a field not intended for seed production.

7. Spring cereals should be planted as early as the seedbed can be properly prepared. Frost susceptible crops should not be planted until the soil has warmed to the minimum germination temperature for the respective crop. Weather forecasts should preclude potential freezing temperatures.

8. Optimum seeding rate varies for each crop, variety, row spacing and seeding date. Rate selected should optimize yields under the given specific conditions. Reduced seeding rates may be necessary when seed supply is limited.

9. Weed control measures should be conducted as early as possible in the growing season. All weed control measures should be completed prior to field inspection. Seed fields should be sprayed with herbicides according to the best recommendations for the crop and the control of the weeds present. Herbicides should be used only as labeled. Follow recommendations in the current ND Weed Control Guide (Circular W-253).

10. Any uncontrolled patches of prohibited noxious weeds must be removed by cutting or roguing or by some other means so that no seed is produced.

11. Roguing fields to remove undesirable or variant crop plants must be conducted at a growth stage most appropriate to attain best results. The responsible party (RCD, FSSD, contract grower) will assure that roguing is completed prior to field inspection for certification. Roguing should insure that all seed producing plant parts, including all tillers in the case of cereal grains, are not harvestable. This may require that plants be physically removed from the field.

12. Application for field inspection on the RC or on RC contracted land will be made by the RCD involved. The RCD also is responsible for completion of certification requirements.

13. Fungicide applications should be considered appropriate when diseases are prevalent in the vicinity or are apparent in the field at a level that would jeopardize yield or seed quality. Follow recommendations in current Field Crop Fungicide Guide (Circular PP-622).

14. Insecticide applications should be considered appropriate when insects are prevalent in the vicinity or are apparent in the field at a level that would jeopardize yield or seed quality. Follow recommendations in current Field Crop Insect Management Guide (Extension Report #22).


III. Harvesting, Conditioning and Storage


1. The RCD or designated representative must insure that seed harvesting and handling equipment and storage facilities are cleaned thoroughly to avoid mixtures with other crops or varieties (includes: swathers, combines, trucks, conveyors, bins and mini-bulk bags.) Personnel must understand that an entire season can be lost if all equipment is not thoroughly cleaned.

2. Crop shall be harvested at physiological maturity to produce high quality seed.

3. Any herbicide applications used as a pre-harvest aid in seed fields should be considered with caution. Use of RoundupÓ (Glyphosate) is strongly discouraged.


1. All storage bins and associated handling facilities must be cleaned thoroughly to avoid the possibility of other crop and variety mixtures.

2. Seed placed in storage bins at high moisture levels should not be used for seed. Seed moisture levels for stored cereal grains and beans should not exceed 13%; flax should be at or below 9%.

3. Grain dried at temperatures above 105 Fo is not suitable for seed. Care must be taken to assure that seed is not exposed to prolonged drying temperatures above 105 Fo.


1. All seed conditioning equipment, associated handling equipment and storage facilities must be cleaned thoroughly to avoid the possibility of other crop or variety mixtures. (Typical equipment includes: conditioning machines; elevator legs, headers and pipes, conveyors; bins, baggers, treaters, mini-bulk bags and floors.)

2. All seed should be conditioned to meet the highest seed standards possible. Conditioning with an Air-Screen Cleaner and Gravity Separator should be considered a minimum requirement. A length separator may also be necessary when conditioning oblong-shaped seed. See Processing Protocol For Foundation Seed Wheat.

3. A representative sample should be collected from each seed lot during harvest. A sub-sample of the seed lot should be retained for a minimum of two years after the last sale of seed from that lot .

4. A sub-sample, taken from Item 3 above, should be submitted to the North Dakota State Seed Department for germination testing soon after harvest. When seed-borne disease is present, a treated sample also is warranted.

5. All seed lots should be sampled regularly during cleaning. A sub-sample should be submitted to the North Dakota State Seed Department for purity analysis and final certification. A remnant seed sample must be retained for a minimum of two years after the last sale of seed from that lot. The corresponding documentation for the seed lot must be maintained for three years after the last sale of seed from the seed lot.

6. A 1,000 gram sample from each seed lot will be sent to FSS for planting in "grow out strips" for purity evaluation. This procedure allows for close examination of the quality control practices from the previous season.

7. Cleanout from seed conditioning will be sold or discarded with loss of identity and purity unless the germplasm is so valuable that all possible viable seed must be salvaged. In such emergencies, it shall be the responsibility of FSSD to notify the RC processing such seed prior to October 1 of any special procedures.


IV. Seed Sales and Distribution

Seed Orders

1. All seed orders will be entered into the computerized Seedstocks database by the RC at the time of the order. Priority for orders of a given variety will be based on when the order was entered into the computer.

2. Orders for Foundation seed of established varieties from established certified seed growers will be given first priority if the order is placed prior to February 28 of the current production year and accompanied by a 25% deposit. The level at which any order is filled may not exceed 10% of the total available seed for a variety.

3. Seed orders of second priority will be to established certified seed growers that are not included in Item 2 above. These growers will be given priority until December 1 of the current production year. The level at which any order is filled may not exceed 10% of the total available seed available for a variety.

4. After December 1, any remaining seed inventory will be sold on a first-come first-served basis with no limit on quantity.

5. All growers who purchase Foundation seed must sign an affidavit as part of the order confirmation process that the seed will be increased and sold as Registered or Certified seed.

6. Due to limited seed supply or strong demand for popular varieties, FSS may limit the amount of specific varieties that growers may be allowed to purchase. Such decisions will be made only after conferring with the RCD and appropriate Plant Science Department personnel.

Seed Pricing

1. Prices for Foundation seed, and when appropriate for Registered and Certified seed of new allocated varieties, will be established by the Seedstocks Price Committee each year prior to October 15 whenever possible. Seed prices for Registered and Certified seed of newly released varieties remain in effect until June 15 of the following year.  Foundation seed prices remain in effect until the next published price list.


1. The FSS Seed Increase program has grown to the point where more seed is being handled and delivered in bulk instead of bags. This growth may also require the use of commercial seed plants for contract conditioning, handling and delivery of Foundation seed. Bulk delivery of Foundation seed made through the NDAES system or through contract seed plants must meet the following conditions:

  • All conditioning and handling facilities must be approved by NDSSD.
  • Seed must be delivered directly to the grower, not through a retailer.
  • A Bulk Sales Certificate must accompany each truckload (container).
  • A representative sample for purity is required for each 2,000 bushels.
  • The maximum bin size should not exceed 8,000 bushels.

V. Protection of Experimental Lines

Control of Seed and Information

1. Identification of an experimental line by the plant breeder’s Accession Number to the general public is strongly discouraged. Use of the Accession Number should be limited to the breeder, NDAES and Extension personnel or other scientists that are participating in the testing of the experimental line.

2. Identification of experimental lines by Accession Number in RC on-station trials that are accessible to the general public is strongly discouraged.

3. Any RC off-station research trials with experimental lines is strongly discouraged.

4. Inclusion of experimental lines in FFA, 4-H, or any other off-station demonstrations is strongly discouraged.


VI. Transgenic and Conventional Soybean Procedures

The coexistence of both conventional and transgenic soybeans seed crops within the Foundation Seedstocks Project will follow the clean genetics protocol established in the ‘Seedstocks Policies and Production Handbook’1 and ‘North Dakota Seed Certification Standards’2.  The following is a review of specific storage, testing and other procedures to maintain genetic purity.

  1. Increase cold storage of conventional varieties to approximately 15 bu.  (Tested for transgenic trait presence).
  2. Test advanced conventional soybean lines designated for winter increase for transgenic trait presence.
  3. Provide assistance in the pre-release soybean winter increase program to assure clean genetics.
  4. Test pre-release conventional soybean lines moving into the foundation increase program for transgenic trait presence.
  5. Review previous crop history to assure land free of soybean volunteer plants that might have the transgenic trait.  Inspect land to be use for producing foundation class seed of conventional soybean varieties during the preceding crop year for volunteers that could be carrying a transgenic trait.
  6. Use separate combine and conditioning equipment for harvest and conditioning of transgenic and conventional soybean fields if possible.  If a combine that harvested a Roundup Ready soybean crop immediately preceding a planned use to harvest a conventional soybean field then the combine must be thoroughly cleaned following normal Foundation Seedstock procedures, inspected by someone other than the personnel doing the cleaning and the Director of FSS notified (before entering the conventional soybean field).
  7. Conventional foundation soybean seed lots will be internally tested for transgenic trait presence.
  8. Conventional foundation soybean seed lots available for distribution will be tested by the NDSSD for transgenic trait presence.
  9. Copies of the NDSSD test for the transgenic trait presence will be made available to purchasers of foundation seed of conventional soybean varieties.
  10. If a transgenic trait is detected in a conventional variety with established market demand a new breeder or foundation seed increase will be initiated.
  11. The conventional foundation soybean increase program will be continually monitored to review procedures with adjustments made to assure clean genetics.
  12. Communication with the conventional soybean seed production industry will be encouraged to assist the evaluation of the program.

    1 North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station Seedstocks Policies and Production Handbook.  Internal document.
    2 North Dakota Seed Certification Standards. 2003. North Dakota State Seed Department Bulletin No. 51.  2003 update is posted on NDSSD web page at:  9/14/03


VII. Listing of References:

1: Objectives

  • ND Seed Increase Program (ND Extension Bulletin A-520)

2: Seed Certification Standards

  • ND Seed Certification Standards (NSSD Bulletin No. 51)
  • Producing Certified Seed (ND Extension Bulletin A-1125)

3: Crop Rotation

  • Crop Rotations for Profit In North Dakota (A-1059)
  • Crop Rotations for Managing Plant disease (PP-705)

4: Fertility

  • Fertilizing Wheat and Rye (ND Extension Bulletin SF-712)
  • Fertilizing Oat (ND Extension Bulletin SF-716)
  • Fertilizing Pinto, Navy and Other Dry Edible Bean (ND Extension Bulletin SF-720)
  • Fertilizing Malting and Feed Barley (ND Extension Bulletin SF-723)
  • Fertilizer Management Strategies for Spring Wheat Production in Northern Climates (ND Extension Bulletin SF-1013)

5: Production Planning

  • Potential Field Work Days During Planting and Harvesting (ND Extension Bulletin A-1008)

6: Weed Control

  • ND Weed Control Guide (ND Extension Circular W-253)

7: Disease Control

  • Field Crop Fungicide Guide (ND Extension Bulletin PP-622)
  • Symptoms and Controls of Crop Diseases (ND Extension  BulletinPP-533)
  • Wheat Leaf Rust (ND Extension Bulletin PP-589)
  • Tan Spot of Wheat (ND Extension Bulletin PP-766)
  • Root and Crown Rots of Small Grains (ND Extension Bulletin PP-785)
  • Head Blight (Scab) of Small Grains (ND Extension Bulletin PP-804)

8: Insect Control

  • Field Crop Insect Management Guide (Extension Report #22)

9: Seed Conditioning

  • ND Foundation Seedstocks Processing Protocol for Foundation Seed Wheat
  • ND Foundation Seedstocks Conditioning Protocol for Foundation Seed (Wheat)
  • ND Foundation Seedstocks Conditioning Plant Receiving Record

10: Miscellaneous

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