April 14, 2024

Planting a seed for hemp regulations

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A large segment of the hemp industry is unfamiliar with federal seed regulations.

“You commonly see no labels or falsified labels on hemp seed,” said Wendy Mosher, during a Novel CBD Production webinar, hosted by Purdue University, University of Illinois Extension, University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension and Michigan State University Extension.

“You will see hot seed labeled as compliant and inaccurate germination rates,” said Mosher, who is the chair of the American Seed Trade Association Hemp Committee. “The industry has to learn how to take seeds to an appropriate third-party seed lab to get them tested instead of utilizing self testing.”

The Federal Seed Act regulates the seed and vegetable commerce for the purpose of protecting the consumer and promoting uniformity between states.

“The quality statements you put on your seed label must be truthful and you have to keep records,” Mosher said. “The Federal Seed Act established the regulatory standards for certified seed agents and this developed into the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies.”

Companies cannot put the word “certified” on seed packages unless the seed has been certified through AOSCA, Mosher said.

“AOSCA is a multi-country, third-party validation that maintains standards for each crop and validates the variety’s genetic purity, absence of weeds, germination and uniformity for harvest,” she said.

“We were the first company to walk through the process with a U.S.-bred variety for hemp,” said Mosher, president and CEO of New West Genetics. “We had to work with the Department of Agriculture, as well as the Colorado Seed Growers Association.”

Almost every state has a group that enacts the certified seed process according to AOSCA standards, Mosher said.

“The first step is to submit your variety description to the review board,” she said. “In Colorado, the THC trials are conducted by the Department of Agriculture and they validate if the seed stays below the 0.3% THC in all locations.”

The AOSCA label will be the same across the nation, Mosher said.

“The blue certified seed tag will have the member entity stamp on it and the required standards listed on the label,” she said. “If you’re not seeing that, you need to question if it is certified seed.”

The ASTA hemp committee, Mosher said, has documents to help farmers with seed purchasing recommendations.

Evaluating costs for hemp production is an important step for all growers.

“When you choose your genetics, there’s a substantial cost associated with feminized seed,” Mosher said. “And testing is costly, about $45 per sample so you can catch it before it goes over the maximum THC amount which adds to the cost per acre and the drying cost is highly variable from region to region.”