The American Seed Trade Association updated its Guide to Seed Quality Management Practices to include phytosanitary components.

“The original guide, released in 2008, was well received by the seed industry,” says Ric Dunkle, ASTA senior director of seed health and trade. “When we released it, people began looking at it and coming back to us with recommendations, which have been taken into consideration in the new version.”

The Guide to Seed Quality Management is designed as an educational tool and to provide general guidance to assist companies in developing and implementing their quality management systems. The guide provides information for maintaining seed product integrity from incorporation of a trait into a breeding program through commercial seed production and sale.

“The previous version focused on quality management systems for maintaining genetic integrity,” says Bernice Slutsky, ASTA vice president for science and international affairs. “The addition of phytosanitary information integrity really completes the guide.”

The guide consists of eight modules covering everything from incorporating seed into a breeding program to commercial seed sales. It also provides users with a list of terms and acronyms, resources, general auditing principles and an International Standard Organization.

Many companies have internal procedures to help keep seed free from disease, Dunkle says. “Countries regulate disease and associate different levels of risk with each one based on if they see it as a threat to their country or not,” he says. “The guide provides some basic protocols companies can use to maintain quality seed such as how to prevent outside pests from being introduced to your facilities or plant stock.”

Readers will be able to easily identify the new content, as the font is displayed in a different color. The guide is available online for free at http://amseed.org/news_seedquality.asp in both a modular and PDF version.

It’s a practical guide, Slutsky says, and one that all seed companies can use and modify to meet the needs of their business.

“Having established requirements or standard operating procedures, when it comes to seed movement, is imperative in today’s marketplace,” Dunkle says. “This guide should help them develop quality seed best management practices and avoid problems in the area of pest management by preventing seed from becoming exposed to certain organisms and taking proper measures—from the obvious such as properly sanitizing equipment to the not so obvious such as testing irrigation water.”

The Guide to Seed Quality Management Practices is based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). Companies can pick and choose what sections apply to their business.

“The guide should be thought of as a skeleton,” Slutsky says. “Companies can use the guide as a general framework that can be adapted to their specific operations.”
ASTA will work on an outreach program to further enhance the guide and help companies establish a plan specific to their operation.