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Seed certification is the system used to keep pedigree records on seeds of crop varieties, much the same as pedigree records are kept on registered pure bred animals, and to make available sources of genetically pure seed and propagating materials for general distribution.

Prior to the development of a seed certification program, new varieties were developed mainly by plant breeders of state experiment stations. Seed of these new varieties were distributed by experiment stations in small quantities to widely selected farmers of the state. These farmers increased the seed and made it available to other farmers in their communities. Under this method of distribution the variety rapidly disappeared.

It became apparent the plant breeder of experiment stations would have to do the job of maintaining the variety or some other means would have to be devised.


The plant breeder’s job and the experiment station function is research. Therefore, seed certification was developed as a separate function for keeping track of crop varieties after their release.

Seed certification is a responsibility of the states. Authority to carry on this service is given by legislation to an agency or organization whose responsibility for the work is defined in the seed law.




The certifying agencies work closely with the State Extension Service, Experiment Stations, State Department of Agriculture, seed analysts, and seed control officials.

The seed certification program dates back to 1921, under the leadership of Professor Dynes of the U-T College of Agriculture, and Tennessee was the first state in the south to initiate such a program. Tennessee Crop Improvement Association, TCIA, was organized in 1922 by members of the East Tennessee Farmers Convention to provide seed certification services.

TCIA as we know it today was incorporated in 1940 as a nonprofit organization.

©2008 Tennessee Certified Genuine Seed Quality