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Try Your Hand at Crop Art to Go

There are still opportunities to enjoy this year’s Minnesota State Fair, despite the cancellation of most on-site events. One example: the fair’s new Crop Art to Go kits. Minnesota Crop Improvement Association provided crop seeds for these kits, continuing a tradition of more than 100 years of involvement with the fair. Everything needed to create your own work of art is included in the kits: seven varieties of seeds, eight beginner illustrations to use as design patterns, a 5 x 7-inch canvas, glue, paintbrush, toothpicks, a pencil, and directions. To order a Crop Art to Go kit, visit the State Fair’s online shop.

Crop art at the Minnesota State Fair was the inspiration of Orris Shulstad, a former manager of MCIA’s seed laboratory who was also superintendent of the State Fair’s farm crops division. In 1965, Shulstad added crop art to the Certified Seed Show and Field Crop Competition. The annual crop art display remains a popular attraction to this day. Creations from the Crop Art to Go kits can be entered in the 2021 Minnesota State Fair competition.

2020 Winter Grains Directory Published

MCIA has published the 2020 edition of our annual Winter Grains Directory. Growers can use the Winter Grains Directory to identify sources of certified and registered rye, triticale, and winter wheat seed. The Directory includes crop variety descriptions as well as producer location and contact information. To view the digital edition of the Winter Grains Directory, click here.

Don’t Plant Mystery Seeds—Send Them to MDA

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been receiving reports of residents receiving unsolicited packages of seeds appearing to come from China. Officials in other states have reported similar situations. Anyone who has received a package of seeds they did not order should not plant the seeds. What to do? Minnesotans should contact MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or Provide your name, contact information, and the date the package was received. Officials will coordinate shipping the packaging and contents to the MDA Seed Program. The MDA is working with the USDA’s Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance Program on identification and destruction of the seeds. For more information on this topic, read the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s full press release.

Meet Multitalented Mhonpaj Lee

If you shop at farmers markets in the Twin Cities, you may have encountered the bountiful, fresh produce grown by Mhonpaj’s Garden. Did you know that Mhonpaj’s Garden has the distinction of being the first Hmong-owned certified organic farm in Minnesota? The operation is certified organic by Minnesota Crop Improvement Association. Learn more about Mhonpaj Lee, the farm’s owner and namesake, and her new role as an organic farming advisor with MOSES, in this recently published Organic Broadcaster article, written by MCIA Organic Certification Specialist Bailey Webster.

List Your Carryover Seed in the Directory

The 2021 MCIA Directory will include a listing of carryover seed. If you are enrolled in MCIA’s Seed Certification program and you have seed you want to list, please submit the Directory Carryover Seed Inclusion form that was included in your field inspection information packet, which we sent to program participants in May. To download the form, go to Client Resources; you’ll find the Directory Carryover Seed Inclusion form listed there under Certification Services, Seed Certification Program.

Advertise in the 2021 Directory

Advertising in MCIA’s 2021 Directory is an affordable and effective way for members to promote their businesses to seed buyers, producers, conditioners, wholesalers, retailers, and a variety of ag-related businesses.

MCIA members who are enrolled in the Approved Facilities Program and MCIA-certified organic handlers can expect to receive an informational mailing soon regarding Directory advertising. To assure that your ad appears in the 2021 Directory, please place your reservation by August 31.

To view 2021 Directory ad rates and specifications, click here. To place an ad reservation or to ask for more information, contact Communications Specialist Alan Makinen at

Seed Laboratory Update

The Seed Laboratory recently emailed clients a Customer Satisfaction Survey. It’s a short survey, containing just ten questions about testing services provided over the last year. To offer your feedback, click the survey link in the message. If you did not receive the survey but you’d like to participate, please send your request to Seed Laboratory Manager Chase Mowry at

Do you have comments or suggestions regarding other MCIA programs or services? Email your thoughts directly to MCIA President/CEO Fawad Shah at

A new fee schedule, which includes minor changes for laboratory testing, will go into effect September 1, 2020. Click here to access the document. Other Seed Laboratory documents may be found on the Client Resources page, listed under Seed Laboratory. For more information call MCIA at 612-625-7766 and ask for the Seed Laboratory.

MCIA Enacts Covid-19 Policy and Preparedness Plan

Minnesota Crop Improvement Association has strengthened its response to the Covid-19 pandemic by developing and implementing a Covid-19 Policy and Preparedness Plan for its workplaces. The plan follows health and safety guidelines issued by state and federal government authorities. With the goal of mitigating potential disease transmission, the plan addresses the following topics: screening for symptoms; handwashing; respiratory etiquette; social distancing; cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation; deliveries and vendor protocol; onsite inspections; communications and training; and traveling.

One aspect of MCIA’s Covid-19 Policy and Preparedness Plan is to share the plan with MCIA’s customers. For the full text of the plan, please read this June 29, 2020 press release.

Two New Hires Boost Field Services Staff

MCIA has hired two new field supervisors, Tom Keskey of Cokato and Dan Krenz of Redwood Falls, to oversee our southern  Minnesota service areas.

With the aim of better serving members enrolled in our Field Inspection and  Approved Facilities programs, MCIA recently redefined the boundaries of our service districts, adding one new district, District 4. Tom is field supervisor for the southeast (District 3) and, starting June 1, Dan is field supervisor for the southwest (District 4).

Map: Field Supervisor Field Inspection Assignments

Tom and Dan both have longtime experience in agriculture and are excited to get their boots on the ground, meet MCIA members, and see their fields. A full introduction to our new field supervisors will be published in the summer issue of the Minnesota Seed Grower.

MCIA’s new field supervisors: Tom Keskey (District 3) and Dan Krenz (District 4).

Field Inspection Application: Completion Tips


MCIA is in the process of mailing out field inspection application packets to members enrolled in our field inspection programs. A friendly reminder to applicants—please be sure to include the following items:

  1. Enclose payment. Review fee schedule to determine fees.
  2. Enclose proof of seed source with application (as noted below).
  3. Include field maps (complete and accurate).
  4. Enclose new variety descriptions if applicable.
  5. Sign and return completed application by due date (see below).

Application forms and instructions are also available on the Client Resources page, under Certification Services. If you have questions, contact your field supervisor or the MCIA office.


To avoid late fees, please note these dates:

  • June 7: Small grains, corn, and sunflowers
  • June 7 or 3 weeks after planting (whichever is first): Soybean post spray inspections
  • June 7: Soybean bloom inspections
  • 4 weeks prior to each cutting: Noxious weed seed–free forage and mulch
  • July 15: Soybeans (pre-harvest inspection only)
  • Year of seeding: Perennials and native grasses and forbs

Proof of Seed Source

Applicants for seed certification must provide proof that eligible seed was used to plant seed production fields. Submit the Foundation or Registered seed tag or bulk certificate as your proof of seed source. If you have questions regarding eligibility for certification contact your field supervisor or the MCIA office.