06-19-19 *CSU Ext News* Ron Meyer: Saving Wheat Seed

CSU Extension Header

SAVING WHEAT SEED

Throughout the ages, farmers have planted wheat seed saved from their previous crop.  When making seed wheat decisions, they selected the best quality seed from the highest yielding varieties.

With the advent of hybrid crops like corn, farmers discovered that they did not get the advantage of hybrid vigor when they saved their corn seed, the ensuing crop was not uniform, and yields were poor.  It was quickly learned they needed to buy new seed each year of these hybrid crops to maximize yields.  This annual purchase of hybrid seed commercialized the corn seed business and resulted in enormous investment into research and development for improved corn hybrids.  Consequently, technology in corn has benefitted farmers with increased yield potentials.  But what about a non-hybrid crop like wheat?

With the passage of the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act in 1970, congress encouraged private investment into development of new plant varieties.  That investment is now paying off in the form of new and improved wheat genetics.  However, an important component of this act was the farmer’s right so save seed from some varieties.  Section 113 of the act states, “It shall not infringe any right hereunder for a person to save seed produced by the person from seed obtained, or descended from seed obtained, by authority of the owner of the variety for seeding purposes and use such saved seed in the production of a crop for use on the farm …

Simply stated, if a farmer purchases ordinary Certified wheat seed they may keep seed grown from that seed for planting on their farm.  However, keep in mind that there are exceptions to this law such as Certified Seed Only varieties.  When planting Certified Seed Only varieties, new wheat seed must be purchased yearly.

In addition, if a farmer buys non-certified wheat seed of a PVPA protected variety from someone else, it is likely that not only is the purchase of that seed in violation of the Act, but saving seed of subsequent production is also a violation.  Wheat varieties that are Plant Variety protected must be purchased from permitted seed dealers only.

The most recent restrictions to saving seed are those imposed by patented traits and sales contracts.  In most cases, farmers are prohibited by patent laws from saving seed of varieties with patented traits like Roundup® resistance in soybean and Clearfield® in wheat.  This is usually reinforced through a contract that is signed at the point of purchase.  Even if traits are not patented, saving seed may be prohibited as part of the sales contract.  Certified Seed Only Varieties must be purchased every season.  Current Certified Seed only varieties are:  Brawl CI plus, Breck, Byrd CI plus, Crescent AX, Incline AX, Monarch, Oakley CI, Snowmass, Snowmass 2.0, Sunshine, Sy Legend CL2, Sy Sunrise, Thunder CI, WB4269, WB4418, WB4595, WB4699, WB4721, and WB4792.  Other varieties may be added to this last as they become released.  Varieties not on this Certified Seed Only list can be replanted every season without purchasing new seed.

The consequences of planting illegal seed can be substantial.  The owner of the variety could go as far as filing a lawsuit asking for the destruction of the crop.  There could also be monetary awards and attorney fees.  If state or federal officials get involved, fines could be levied per occurrence.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.  As a best management practice, farmers should know what variety they are planting and follow the protocol for that variety.  If they did purchase Certified seed, they should read the label and sales contracts to see if there are any restrictions on saving seed.  The label and sales contract will state planting limitations.

SOURCE:  Daryl Strouts, President, Kansas Wheat Alliance

Submitted to Barn Media by:

CSU Golden Plains Area Extension,  Ron Meyer, Area Extension Agent (Agronomy), 

(719) 346-5571 x 305, ron.meyer@colostate.edu

Colorado State University Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.

Colorado State University Extension is your local university community connection for research-based information about natural resource management; living well through raising kids, eating right and spending smart; gardening and commercial horticulture; the latest agricultural production technologies and community development. Extension 4-H and youth development programs reach more than 90,000 young people annually, over half in urban communities.