This is the time of year we often hear of Ohio producers considering seed harvests of red clover or other crops (e.g. cover crop seed). If the intention is to sell that seed, even if just “across the fence” to a neighbor, it is important to be reminded there is a permitting process that must be followed before any seed can be sold in order to stay legal with state and federal laws related to seed sales and consumer protection.
Before selling any seed, the seed producer must acquire a permit from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. This permit involves an application and testing a sample of the seed for seed purity and germination. The results of the seed test must be disclosed on a label (seed tag) when the seed is sold.
If the Ohio Department of Agriculture finds any restricted weed seeds in the seed sample, this also must be disclosed on the label, and there are limits to how much restricted weed seed can be present in a seed lot for sale. If there are any prohibited seeds found in the sample, the seed permit will be denied and cannot be sold in that condition. The seed would have to be cleaned and then re-tested to prove the absence of prohibited seeds before a permit would be issued.
Before considering any seed sales, contact David Simmons at the Ohio Department of Agriculture:
Agri Inspection Administrator
Ohio Department of Agriculture
David will be happy to explain the full details of the seed registration and permitting process. In fact, producers are welcome to submit seed for testing and obtain the results before deciding if they want to move forward with the permitting application. Each producer can obtain free seed testing from the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture between June 1 and December 31 (first three tests are free, additional ones charged at cost). Between January 1 and May 31 of each year, all seed testing is charged at cost.
Seed can also be tested by Central Ohio Seed Testing, including cover crop seed (614-792-0334).
Keep in mind there are other federal seed laws to consider, such as the Plant Variety Protection Act which provides legal intellectual property rights protection to breeders of new varieties of plants that are sexually reproduced (by seed) or tuber-propagated. So producers need to be aware of what variety they are reproducing and whether it is protected under those laws.