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Planting Unlabeled Cover Crop Seed Could be Costly

ND State Seed Department Logo ND State Seed Department Logo
Illegal sales of a protected variety can result in fines up to $10,000 per occurrence.

Planting cover crops is increasing in popularity each year, and this is not surprising considering the benefits. However, those potential benefits will be quickly negated by the use of untested or unlabeled seed says Jason Goltz, North Dakota State Seed Department regulatory programs manager.

North Dakota seed law requires that all agricultural seed offered for sale, or sold for planting purposes, must be labeled. Proper labeling requires seed testing and without proof of testing, there is the potential for planting seed that will not germinate or planting seed contaminated with weed seed that may take years to control or eradicate.

“If you are buying seed that has no available label or the label is promised in the mail, it is not a legal sale,” says Goltz.

Another concern when purchasing seed for cover crop use is to ensure the seed meets all intellectual property rights protections, warns the ND State Seed Department.

For example, most rye in North Dakota can be sold “variety not stated”. The exception, is ND Dylan. A North Dakota State University developed variety, ND Dylan is protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act and Title V of the Federal Seed Act. This means ND Dylan must be sold by variety name as a class of certified seed. Illegal sales of a protected variety can result in fines up to $10,000 per occurrence.

Goltz concludes, “Taking full advantage of the benefits of cover crops depends on the quality of the seed. Be sure to purchase legal seed that has been properly tested and labeled.”

Visit for more information on North Dakota’s seed laws.

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Aug. 21, 2019

Source:Jason Goltz, 701-231-5450,
Editor:Kelli Anderson, 701-231-6136,
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