Seed World

How CSGA’s Improved Circular 6 Benefits Everyone

Mike Scheffel is managing director, policy and standards for the Canadian Seed Growers' Association.

On Feb. 1, 2020, a modernized and completely reformatted version of the Canadian Regulations and Procedures for Pedigreed Seed Crop Production (Circular 6) was issued in time for the 2020 crop production season.

Over the past year, with the help of working groups, plant breeders, CFIA and other stakeholders, CSGA has continued to work on developing certification requirements for new crop types as well as making continuous improvements to existing requirements that took effect on Feb. 1 for the 2021 crop production season.

New certification requirements have been developed for Feminized Hemp Seed for Certified production of FHS varieties which produce only female plants, Certified and Foundation production of Composite and Synthetic Mustard (S. alba) and Certified production of Hybrid Wheat with Individual Parent Lines planted in bays or strips.

Some significant changes have been made to the long-standing requirements for higher generation status seed production including the requirements for Plot Grower accreditation and Foundation status seed production of Section 2 and 3 crop kinds. Other revisions include clarification of isolation requirements for Select and Probation plots, higher voluntary or additional certification requirements, clarifications regarding authorized inspectors and crop inspection, and CSGA’s authority to determine seed crop certification eligibility.    

Modernized Requirements for Plot Grower Accreditation

For many years, seed growers have been required to go through a probationary period to obtain Plot Grower accreditation that allows them to produce Select plots of crops such as wheat and soybeans or Foundation plots of canola or hemp. The requirements include three years of seed production experience before commencing probation and then three years of probation plot production.

Many have argued that six years is too long and discourages seed growers from seeking accreditation.  Others have argued that it is an unnecessary barrier that is not effective in ensuring that the grower has the competencies required to produce higher generation stock seed. CSGA’s requirements for Plot Grower accreditation remained the same these past 30 years — until now.

Over the past year CSGA has developed eLearning curricula to support the professional development of seed growers. There are approximately 10 “modules”, each focusing on different topics such as roguing that would be beneficial for Plot Growers, and a module that specifically focuses on plot production.

The current requirements focus entirely on producing pedigreed seed crops. These new tools provide the opportunity to supplement the production experience and are likely a more efficient and effective way of ensuring that accredited Plot Growers have the competency to maintain the varietal identity and purity necessary for higher generation seed crop production.

Revised requirements for the 2021 production season incorporate the use of eLearning tools and include changes to the prior experience required to commence probation, including the type of crops which have been previously produced, the size of probation plots and the length of the probationary period.

The new CSGA eLearning and Professional Development program will launch in autumn 2021.

Foundation Status Seed Production of Section 2 & 3 Crop Kinds

Until now, only accredited Plot Growers could produce Foundation status seed crops of most Section 2 and 3 crop kinds including cereals, small grains, and pulses. The one exception has been soybean, subject to certain requirements, as companies often found it difficult to find growers to produce their higher generation seed crops, particularly in some areas.

However, the exceptional requirements for soybean were an administrative challenge for seed growers, seed companies and CSGA staff. They also meant that soybean seed production companies did not have to have their Foundation seed crops produced by accredited Plot Growers, unlike companies working with all the other crop kinds in Sections 2 and 3.

Enabling all seed growers to produce Foundation seed will provide new opportunities for seed growers and companies and could result in more Foundation seed crop production in Canada.
—Mike Scheffel is Managing Director, Policy and Standards for the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association