The main function of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry (ADAI) Seed Laboratory, located in Montgomery, AL, is to inspect seed samples. These samples are collected by the inspectors of the Agriculture Compliance Division from retail and wholesale establishments throughout the state. The seed samples are inspected for the presence of weeds, inert material, and other quality factors such as germination rate so that consumers and farmers know that the seed they purchase is of the highest quality. The Alabama Seed Lab also inspects seeds that are grown by Alabama’s farmers. These tests are conducted to enforce “Truth in Labeling”, thereby providing a level and fair market for the selling and buying of seeds in Alabama. This service ensures that agricultural seeds offered for sale in Alabama are correctly labeled and meet certain minimum requirements under the state’s seed law.
Throughout the year, ADAI inspectors routinely visit farm supply stores, plant nurseries, hardware stores, and other outlets where seed are sold to collect samples for testing. Testing at the wholesale level is important for uniform quality of the seed used by farmers and consumers alike to plant their crops, lawns, and gardens. These routine tests benefit wholesale seed dealers because it allows the ADAI to find problems before the lots are distributed statewide.
Categories of seed samples tested include certified, unofficial, and official. Certified seed samples (includes certified, registered, and foundation seeds) are those submitted by certified growers under programs of the Southern Seed Certification Association (SSCA). Unofficial samples are those submitted by farmers for testing. Official samples are collected by inspectors to check for violations of the state seed law. ADAI may impose a "stop sale" order on seed that are in gross violation of the law.
Seed samples are tested for purity to determine the amount of pure seed, other crop seed, weed seed, noxious weed count, and inert matter that are present in the sample. Seed also are tested for total germination to determine the normal viable seedlings and the hard or dormant seeds (if any).
In the 2017 fiscal year, we received 4,173 samples. 3,469 were official samples and 704 were unofficial/farmer’s samples. Purity, germination, noxious, tetrazolium, endophyte, soybean peroxidase, and herbicide tolerance tests were some of the 14,216 tests conducted on samples of seeds received within the laboratory. Approximately 18% of the seed lots tested were involved in interstate shipments. 407 violations were issued on lots of seeds resulting in stop-sales either permanently or pending tag relabeling.
We have a highly trained staff which consists of 2 certified seed analysts/registered seed technologists, 1 certified seed analyst, and 7 other hard-working personnel with over 30 years of seed testing experience. We are also members of the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists as well as the Association of Official Seed Analysts. We attend webinars, conferences, and workshops throughout the year to ensure that we continue to improve our protocols and methods so that we provide the most accurate and up to date information possible to farmers and consumers.