Improving Your Process, Enhancing Your Products, Increasing Your Profits


April 30 Application Deadline for Hemp Growers and Processors


Those wanting to grow, process, breed, or research hemp in Minnesota in 2021 must apply for a license with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) by April 30.

The online application for growers and processors can be found on the MDA website at

Questions about the MDA’s Hemp Program should be sent to or call 651-201-6600. MDA’s full press release on this topic can be found online here.

Annual President’s Report

MCIA Perseveres and Prospers

At  every annual meeting of the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association, the association’s president reports on MCIA’s activities over the past year and provides an assessment of the state of the organization. Following are highlights from Dr. Fawad Shah’s presentation to MCIA’s membership on January 13, 2021.

MCIA’s responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by developing and implementing a preparedness plan, adopted from CDC and MDH guidelines to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the MCIA staff.

MCIA is in good financial health. The fiscal year 2019–2020 was very successful, and MCIA investment funds also saw strong growth. Growth in Organic Services continued and yielded another profitable year. Bailey Webster was hired to fill an open organic certification specialist/inspector position, after Susan Stewart’s retirement. Carl Anfinson was hired in Foundation Seed Services to fill the open seed production coordinator position. Field inspection districts were realigned, increasing the number of districts from three to four. Tom Keskey and Dan Krenz were hired as field supervisors to fill district three and four positions.

MCIA established a relationship with West Central Technology to provide MCIA with IT support services. In April, MCIA launched a new website. The new website is secure, mobile-friendly, and improved site navigation.

MCIA has developed a 99% Non-GMO Corn Seed Program. It has been approved by AOSCA’s IP program standards.

MCIA continues to collaborate with the University of Minnesota (UMN) in protecting the intellectual property rights of university-developed crop varieties. MCIA joined with the Farmers Yield Initiative, UMN’s general counsel and the dean and director of the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to address the issue of “brown bagging” and level the playing field for all seed producers and sellers.

MCIA’s Seed Laboratory successfully developed and implemented a Quality Management System and received accreditation by the USDA’s Accredited Seed Laboratory Program. Manager Chase Mowry became qualified as a Canadian Seed Grader. Now, seed tested and graded in the MCIA Seed Laboratory can be shipped into Canada without further testing. Thus, saving customers time and expense. Seed Technologist Sam Banks recently passed his Registered Seed Technologist exam.

MCIA’s priorities for fiscal year 2020–2021 include training of new staff, completion of the database project, adding new lab services, supporting the sale of PVP-protected varieties, and continued efforts to identify local, regional, and international opportunities to increase the visibility of MCIA.

Note: The full, official minutes of the 2021 MCIA Annual Meeting, which include the President’s Report, were published in the spring 2021 issue of the Minnesota Seed Grower.

2021 Minnesota Certified Seed Guide Published

2021 Minnesota Certified Seed Guide

The Minnesota Certified Seed Guide is a collaborative effort of MCIA and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES). This annual publication lists seed producers, includes MAES crop trial results, and features news and information relevant to the seed industry.

The 2021 edition was published in print over the winter by Minnesota Farm Guide. A digital version of the Minnesota Certified Seed Guide can be found here. If you’d like a printed copy, please request one from your MCIA field supervisor.

Seed Lab FYI: Days Required for Germ Tests

Barley* (no prechill): 7 days
Corn: 7 days
Oats* (no prechill): 10 days
Rye* (no prechill): 7 days
Ryegrass (no prechill): 14 days
Soybeans: 7 days
Wheat* (no prechill): 7 days
*A prechill is required for all 2020 crop year samples, which will add at least 5 days to the germination test.

Why We Mix and Divide

How the Seed Laboratory Obtains Representative Seed Samples

Seed Divider
Seed divider in action.

We frequently stress the importance of obtaining a representative sample of your seed lot for testing. This includes sampling intensity and storage of the composite sample. You may not be aware it, but the components of your seed lot or composite sample can separate over time with movement or shipment.

For instance, lighter seeds of a particular kind will make their way towards the top of a sample bag during transit whereas the denser seeds will move towards the bottom. Similarly, seeds of larger size will also separate towards the top of the sample whereas smaller seeds will move toward the bottom.

This type of separation can easily be observed when opening a container of mixed nuts—you will likely notice several nuts of one kind located on the top! In addition, at the bottom of the container you will find the smaller, broken pieces of nuts, much of which would be classified as inert matter in seed testing.

So, what does all of this mean? Much like the importance in sampling of your seed lot, we want to ensure that the testing that takes place in the lab is also representative. To achieve this, we obtain the required amount of a working sub-sample for purity analysis through a process called mixing and dividing.

Prior to testing, each sample is thoroughly mixed by passing the entire sample through a calibrated divider three times. Following the third passage, sample reduction takes place through successive halving and combination of half-portions until the required minimum working weight for the particular kind is obtained.

For instance, after mixing, a 1000-gram wheat sample will be divided down to obtain a minimum of 500 grams for the noxious exam. From this noxious portion, a minimum of 100 grams will be divided out to conduct the purity analysis, in which the component percentages used for labeling are determined. Altogether, this process of mixing and dividing provides randomization of the sample while eliminating bias and it lays the foundation for subsequent tests.

How to Report Illegal Seed Sales

While most producers respect the seed laws, there are some who seek to gain an unfair advantage by working outside of the legal system. The Farmers’ Yield Initiative (FYI) works to encourage compliance with existing seed laws. To help put a stop to illegal seed trade, please consider submitting a strictly confidential tip to FYI. The caller can remain anonymous, and a call to 1-877-482-5907 is toll-free. Or, send an email to For more information, visit the Farmers Yield Initiative website.

Plan for Field Inspection

Field Inspection
MCIA Field Inspector Jim Boots inspecting a soybean field.

Each year, there are some growers we need to contact to obtain all the information required to complete field inspection. Sometimes that follow-up process delays final certification until later in the year.

To avoid certification delays, please remember to keep accurate records and:

  1. Save your proof of seed source (tags or bulk certificates).
  2. Maintain proper isolation between varieties and other crops.
  3. New varieties—we need a variety description to complete inspections and pass fields. Forms for this purpose can be found online or by contacting the office.

As you move into the planting season, remember that your MCIA field supervisor or the MCIA office staff are ready and available to answer your questions.

Field Inspection Application Deadlines

Please note these dates to avoid late fees:

  • June 8: Small grains, corn, and sunflowers
  • June 8 or 3 weeks after planting (whichever is first): Soybean postspray inspections
  • June 8: Soybean bloom inspections
  • July 15: Soybeans (pre-harvest inspection only)
  • Year of seeding: Perennials
  • 4 weeks prior to each cutting for noxious weed seed–free forage and mulch
  • Within 18 months of the year established for native grasses and forbs

Information packets for Field Inspection Applications will be mailed in May. Application forms and instructions are also available on the Client Resources page.

MDA Issues Covid-19 Vaccination Update for Ag Sector

Minnesota Covid-19 Vaccine Connector

COVID-19 vaccinations are now being administered to employees in the agricultural, manufacturing, food services, and food processing sectors. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has issued a bulletin to agriculture sector employers with advice on workforce vaccination. Individuals can connect directly to vaccination opportunities via the Covid-19 Vaccine Connector or by calling the Covid Vaccine Connector Hotline at 1-833-431-2053.

Agronomic Standards and Seed Certification Handbook Updated

We encourage MCIA members who participate in our seed certification programs to download the recently updated Agronomic Seed Certification Standards and Seed Certification Handbook. Note that Festulolium and hybrid rye standards have been approved by the MCIA Board of Directors. Revisions to hemp and sod quality seed standards were also approved. Other key changes include, but are not limited to, reformatting standards for consistency, merging information into one document, and clarifying requirements on interagency certification.

These and other MCIA documents can be accessed via the Client Resources page of this website. You’ll find Seed Certification Program documents listed there under the Certification Services header.

If you have questions about the changes or if you would like to request printed copies of the Standards or Handbook, please contact the MCIA office at or call 800-510-6242.

MCIA Seeks Administration and Certification Assistant

Minnesota Crop Improvement Association is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Administration and Certification Assistant. This full-time position offers a competitive salary and full benefits. This position is located at MCIA’s main office on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. For more information, read the full position announcement on our job openings page.