Peanut producers should be knowledgeable and know their real cost of shelling, treating and storing before committing to plant non-professionally produced seed, says Terry Hollifield of the Georgia Crop Improvement Association.

“Georgia peanut producers expect and demand high-quality, genetically pure seed,” said Hollifield, speaking at the recent Georgia Peanut Farm Show in Albany. “And obtaining uniform stands is one of the keys to producing high-quality peanuts.”

But producing high-quality, genetically pure peanut seed is both expensive and specialized, he adds. “Saving one’s own seed may not be as cost effective as it seems,” he says. “Several factors add to the cost of professionally grown seed, including Seed Certification Inspections to assure genetic purity, exercising proper drying technique, isolating and identifying varieties, storage and special handling during shelling, treating, bagging and transporting seed,” says Hollifield.

Peanut producers should be aware of significant legal issues associated with saving seed, he says. “Currently, with few if any exceptions, peanut varieties grown in Georgia have one or more forms of legal protection limiting or preventing producers from saving or using their own seed,” he explains.

Varieties protected under the USDA-administrated Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970, amended in 1994, may not be sold, marketed, offered for sale, delivered, consigned or exchanged without the explicit consent of the owner of the variety, says Hollifield.

“It is illegal to condition or shell the variety for the purpose of propagation. However, a producer may save seed for the sole purpose of planting his holdings,” he says.

Seed varieties protected by U.S. Utility Patent issued by the United States Patent and Trademark office may not be saved for planting, he says, and there is no farmer exemption.

“The only legal provision for peanut seed production of varieties covered by a patent is by a licensing agreement with the patent owner. It is illegal to condition or shell a patent-protected variety for the purpose of propagation,” says Hollifield.

A variety may be protected by both the Plant Variety Protection Act and a Patent, he continues. To be safe, producers should contact the owner of the variety or the Georgia Crop Improvement Association at (706) 542-2351 or gacrop@bellsouth.net, or www.certifiedseed.org.

Hollifield reminded growers that substantial fines will and have been levied in Georgia for violating the laws protecting patented seed.

As of January 2009, the following varieties were protected as “Patented,” meaning that a farmer may not save the seed: Andru II, ANorden, AT1-1, AT-215, AT201, AT-3085RO, Brantley, Flavor Runner 458, Florida Fancy, Florida-07, Georgia-02C, Georgia-04S, Georgia-05E, GA Hi OL, GK7-hi oleic, GP-1, Hull, McCloud, Olin, SunOleic 95R, SunOleic 97R, AgraTech VC-2 and York.

The following varieties are protected by the Plant Protection Act and a farmer may save enough seed to plant his acreage: AP-3, AP-4, AT-3081R, Carver, CHAMPS, Coan, C99R, DP-1, Georgia Green, Georgia Greener, Georgia-01R, Georgia-03L, Georgia-06G, Georgia-07W, Gregory, NC 12C, Perry, Phillips, Tifguard, ViruGard and Wilson.

Hollifield stresses that producers should contact the Georgia Crop Improvement Association if they are uncertain about the status of a variety.

e-mail: phollis@farmpress.com