Farmers, citizens and businesses interested in knowing more about the quality of seed they are preparing to plant or sell in 2009 should consider submitting a sample to the North Carolina Seed Laboratory for testing.

“Whether you’re planting vegetable seed or grass seed, our tests can provide helpful information, such as how pure the seed is and what percentage of seed will germinate,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

The lab, which is part of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Plant Industry Division, routinely conducts multiple specialized tests, including purity and germination percentage, and checks for the presence of noxious weed seed. All tests are free except for a test that uses tetrazolium to quickly determine seed viability. It costs $5.

Individuals interested in submitting samples for testing should call the lab at (919) 733-3931, ext. 212, or visit the Web site at www.ncagr.gov/plantindustry/seed/submitsample.htm for instructions. Sample size varies depending on the kind of seed.

The seed lab also conducts testing for the department’s seed regulatory program, which works to ensure that seed offered for sale in North Carolina meets label requirements as outlined in the North Carolina Seed Law and accompanying regulations.

Troxler said it is important to pay attention to critical information included on seed labels, including variety name, lot number, purity and germination percentages, and the presence of noxious weed seed and other crop seed. “This information not only provides the buyer with a way to track the seed should a problem develop, it serves as an indicator of how the seed will perform once planted in the field,” he said.

The laboratory conducted more than 5,000 regulatory seed tests and nearly 7,800 service seed tests in 2007. To learn more about the seed program, visit the program’s Web site at www.ncagr.gov/plantindustry/seed/index.htm.