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Foundation Seed Services

Foundation Seed Services

MCIA’s Foundation Seed Services facilitates the movement into the marketplace of new crop varieties that have been developed by public plant breeding institutions. MCIA’s principal partner, the University of Minnesota, has breeding programs in turf and forage grasses, wheat, oats, barley, soybeans, and wild rice.

Foundation seed is the initial generation in the seed certification program. MCIA produces and distributes foundation seed of crop varieties offered as general releases by the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and other public university plant breeding programs. Foundation seed is sold to MCIA members for the production of registered and certified seed.

Many publicly-developed varieties are protected by the Plant Variety Protection Act and require a license or royalty agreement to produce and distribute seed of those varieties. Not all agreements are the same and seed producers are encouraged to inquire about various royalties or assessments associated with a variety.

Are you eligible to buy Foundation Seed?

Foundation seed can be purchased by MCIA members in good standing who have successfully completed seed certification in at least one of the previous three years. To complete certification, a grower’s field must pass field inspection and the conditioned seed produced must be tested and meet final certification standards. Notice of availability of foundation seed and ordering information is mailed to eligible growers each year.

  • Registered grower status is attained by successfully completing certification 5 of the past 8 years and one of the past 3 years. Registered growers are eligible to receive foundation seed of new varieties; they have priority in county seed distribution.
  • Approved grower status is attained by producing and certifying seed grown from registered seed of a previously-released variety. To become an approved grower a member must successfully complete certification 1 of the past 3 years. Approved growers can purchase foundation seed of previously released varieties. They also are eligible to be allotted registered seed of new varieties.
  • Registered and approved grower status will be lost if a member does not successfully complete certification in at least 1 of the previous 3 years. Certification must be completed in Minnesota for a member to receive credit towards their record.
  • Growers who produce seed only under a contract arrangement with another group, individual or company and do not apply for certification in their own name are not credited with a record of certification.
  • Growers who apply for field inspection in their name and sell the seed produced to an approved conditioning plant receive credit toward their record of certification when the seed is properly transferred and certification of that seed is completed at MCIA.

Varieties, Royalties, and Assessments

Cancellation Policy

If all or part of a foundation seed order is canceled, 25 percent of the payment for the canceled order will be forfeited unless an alternate customer is found for the seed or the amount canceled is substituted by an equal amount of another variety of the same crop. New varieties cannot be used to substitute for canceled orders.

Resale and Transfer

Resale or transfer of ownership of foundation seed is prohibited without prior approval of MCIA.

Variety Distribution and Allotments

Agronomic crop varieties released by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station are distributed through the MCIA Foundation Seed Program. The Minnesota plan of seed distribution for new varieties was developed to facilitate the allotment of limited seedstocks as equitably as possible. It gives eligible growers an opportunity to participate in producing seed of the variety as soon as possible after it is released.

The seed distribution and allotment of new varieties is determined on the basis of previous certified seed production of the crop in the county. Eligible members are notified of varieties being released and area of distribution.

New Varieties

The MCIA Foundation Seed Program annually offers to its eligible members new crop varieties released by the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station and neighboring state universities. These new varieties are increased by MCIA members and are generally available to farmers the following year.

Below is a list of varieties released in recent years.

  • 2020: MN-Torgy hard red spring wheat
  • 2019: MN-Pearl oat and MN-Washburn hard red spring wheat
  • 2018: Lang-MN hard red spring wheat
  • 2016: Shelly hard red spring wheat
  • 2015: Bolles hard red spring wheat, Elgin-ND hard red spring wheat, and MN0808CN soybean
  • 2014: Linkert and Forefront hard red spring wheat, Deon oats, and MN0083 soybean
  • 2013: Norden hard red spring wheat and Horsepower oats
  • 2012: Rollag and Prosper hard red spring wheat and MN0095 soybean
  • 2011: Badger oats, Barlow hard red spring wheat, MN1701CN soybean, and Quest barley
  • 2010: Sabin and Brick hard red spring wheat, Colt and Streaker oats, and MN1701CN soybean
  • 2009: Tom hard red spring wheat, Rasmusson barley, and MN0105 soybean

Crop Variety Review Committee

New variety release policies and procedures are developed by the University of Minnesota’s Crop Variety Review Committee (CVRC). Members of this committee are appointed by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station Director.

The committee is responsible for:

  • Approving the release of new varieties, hybrids, inbreds, clones and special genetic stocks.
  • Approving increases and procedures for increasing and releasing plant stocks of new varieties, hybrids, inbreds and clones developed by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.
  • Provide input on the names of new varieties, hybrids, inbreds, or clones developed by the Experiment Station.
  • Recommend policies relating to release and recommendation procedures.


What is foundation seed?

Foundation seed is the initial generation of seed in the seed certification program. Foundation seed of crop varieties is planted by seed growers to produce registered and certified class seed.

Why does MCIA produce foundation seed?

MCIA’s Foundation Seed Services operates under an agreement with the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station to increase, maintain, and distribute foundation seed of new and established, publicly developed varieties. MCIA cooperates closely with the University of Minnesota plant breeding programs in soybeans, wheat, barley, oats, and grasses. MCIA also cooperates with Foundation Seed organizations in neighboring states to supply varieties developed by other public plant breeding programs.

How is foundation seed produced?

Much of MCIA’s foundation seed is produced under contract with selected growers around the state. Under the direction and supervision of MCIA, these growers are responsible for production, harvesting, conditioning, and distributing foundation seed. MCIA also produces small seed increases on the St. Paul campus and conditions them at the MCIA seed facility in St. Paul.

Who is eligible to purchase foundation seed?

Foundation seed is available to MCIA members who have previous history producing seed in the certification program. Eligible producers are notified of varieties available and procedures for ordering seed.

What should I look for?

A foundation seed certification label must be attached to each container. For seed sold in bulk, a Bulk Sales Certificate must accompany each load of seed.

For more information about this program, please contact Roger Wippler, Manager, Foundation Seed Services at 612-625-7766 or email or visit Client Resources.

Variety Licensing

MCIA works with the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) plant breeding faculty and Technology Commercialization staff to identify customers interested in licensing agronomic crop varieties. MCIA is the marketing agent of the University of Minnesota Technology Commercialization office. CFANS has breeding programs in grasses, wheat, oats, barley, soybeans, and wild rice.

Varieties Available

There are numerous crops and varieties with various traits available for licensing or evaluation.


  • General use conventional varieties
  • Specialty types
  • Food grade varieties

Small Grains

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats

Turf Grasses

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Fescues
  • Perennial Ryegrass

Forage Legumes

MCIA Responsibilities

In the role of marketing agent, MCIA utilizes its relationship with the University of Minnesota Plant Breeding programs and its many contacts in agribusiness and the seed industry to identify marketing opportunities for new varieties.

Upon selection of a new variety for release, MCIA works closely with the CFANS faculty and staff to identify possible uses and determine the best method for licensing those plant materials. MCIA contacts potential licensees to determine their interest and cooperates with them if there is a need for additional agronomic or product evaluation. As the marketing agent, MCIA negotiates the terms of license agreements. The University of Minnesota retains ownership of all licensed varieties.

The overall goal of MCIA’s Variety Licensing program is to get the products of CFANS’ research into the hands of individuals and companies that can best utilize the newly developed technologies. MCIA is the connection between CFANS and agribusiness providing maximum benefit to the University, Minnesota agriculture, and the world.

Plant Material Transfer Agreement

Prior to obtaining seed for evaluation, all interested parties must obtain a Plant Material Transfer Agreement from MCIA.

A Plant Material Transfer Agreement grants permission to an individual or company to evaluate a variety’s agronomic traits and/or assess its potential for development and/or commercialization. Selection, breeding, and/or crossing are not permitted under the terms of the Plant Material Transfer Agreement. This agreement does not grant any rights for commercialization. A license/commercialization agreement is required to propagate varieties for seed or commercial use.


What is variety licensing?

Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA) is the licensing agent for agronomic crops developed at the University of Minnesota. Plant breeders at the University continue to develop new varieties of soybeans, wheat, barley, oats, and grasses. MCIA serves as the primary point of contact for producers and processors interested in new Minnesota varieties.

Why are some varieties licensed?

Crop varieties that are suitable for large-scale commercial production are released as public varieties through the traditional Foundation Seed distribution program. However, many releases are food-grade or special-use varieties that require unique production and handling capabilities or access to specialty markets.

Who is eligible to license varieties?

Producers or companies that can demonstrate their capability to successfully produce and commercialize products of the type to be licensed will be considered as licensing partners to the University.

How are varieties licensed?

MCIA provides a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) which allows an individual or company to evaluate the agronomic traits and to assess the potential for commercialization. Parties interested in licensing may submit a proposal for licensing to MCIA. Proposals are reviewed based on criteria established to identify licensing partners most appropriate for the variety being released.

For more information about this program, please contact Roger Wippler, Manager, Foundation Seed Services at 612-625-7766 or email or visit Client Resources.

2022 MCIA Annual Meeting • January 12, 2022 • Virtual Event
2022 MCIA Annual Meeting