Seed World

We’ve Finally Given Circular 6 a Facelift

Gail Harris
CSGA Standards Manager

It’s been over 15 years since the Canadian Regulations and Procedures for Pedigreed Seed Crop Production, better known as Circular 6, has had a facelift. An important part of the CSGA board of directors’ vision for the future was a modernized version of Circular 6. Key objectives identified in the CSGA’s five-year Strategic Plan were to modernize Circular 6 through regular review and to improve the user experience.

A multi-phase plan was implemented to ensure that the standards and requirements reflect the most recent scientific and technological advancements, as well as new market demands and production realities. Another important aspect of the plan was to make Circular 6 easier to understand by making the mandatory requirements clearer and separate from best management practices, and by supporting seed growers through the entire seed production process.

During the first phase of the modernization project, six crop-specific working groups were formed to completely review the standards for their respective crop kinds and to identify priorities for the future. Important principles guiding the discussions included harmonization with other jurisdictions to facilitate trade without placing Canadian seed producers or exporters at a disadvantage and ensuring the standards are fit for purpose.

To obtain broader stakeholder input, the working groups consisted not only of seed growers but also the seed trade, seed crop inspectors and plant breeders, as well as industry and government representatives. As a result of the work done by the working groups, and with feedback from the membership through an online survey, nearly 30 changes were made to the standards and requirements for the 2018 crop production season. But the work didn’t stop there.

During the second phase of the project, a mustard working group was established. Many difficult issues were addressed resulting in a number of changes for 2019. The changes included the establishment of standards for wild mustard in canola and mustard seed crops, and the development of brand-new standards for hybrid wheat. A second survey on the proposed revisions was launched on CSGA’s then-new online member engagement platform SeedTALK. During this second phase, the initial steps were also taken towards simplifying and reformatting the standards.

The third phase of the project brings brand-new standards for hybrid mustard, a long-anticipated change in the standard for wild oats in oat seed crops and the formation of an eighth working group focusing on the requirements for hybrid seed corn crop production.

However, the most important change for 2020 is the launch of a modernized, newly formatted and redesigned version of Circular 6. The new formatting brings with it individual crop-specific “one-pagers” which clearly lay out the crop-specific standards for things like isolation and previous land use requirements, so seed growers no longer need to wade through the standards for multiple crop kinds to find what they are looking for. Not only are they easier to find, they are easier to understand. The new format also includes a section describing the general requirements for all pedigreed seed crops as well as sections for accredited plot growers and probationary growers for a “one-stop” source of information.

New challenges on the horizon include the development of standards for new types of hemp seed production including the use of clones, hybrids and feminized seed production, as CSGA has been receiving a lot of interest in recent months. As the industry evolves and new crop types provide opportunities for agriculture, new standards will position farmers to take advantage of the benefits of using certified seed.

The board and staff always welcome feedback on efforts to modernize the standards. To get a first-hand look at the standards in their new format, visit the CSGA website at