Addressing the issue of variety mixes in Black label certified seed potatoes
The AuSPICA certification officers are well trained in identifying variety mixes in the field, but many variety mixes are occurring post-harvest in the shed. It is important that growers take additional attention with post-harvest handling and grading practices to avoid variety mixes and ensure that the intended variety remains true to type, especially when transferring seed under the black label to other seed growers. The subsequent cost associated with variety mixes is considerable and effort should be made to ensure such issues are prevented from occurring.A purple flowering variety in a crop of Dutch CreamA non-flowering yellow fleshed variety (unknown DNA pending) in Snowden
A blue flowering and a pink flowered variety mix in FL2017
Preventing the problem of variety mixes
In the recent past, we have developed bumper stickers to be placed on critical areas such as hoppers, planters etc to act as a subtle reminder when handling seed to check variety and prevent mixes. These stickers are still available from the AuSPICA office, if required.
Grower’s supplying certified seed potatoes are responsible for the integrity of the seed variety that they produce. The variety name printed on this label is based on the variety information supplied by the Grower at the time of application to AuSPICA.
To address the growing concerns in relation to the supply of black label seed that have been subsequently found to have a variety mix, the AuSPICA Board have reviewed policy to support the supply of true to type seed potatoes. An outcome of this review by the Board was to update the AuSPICA Certified Seed Growers Code of Professional Conduct to include a reference to the responsibility associated with maintaining variety purity within acceptable tolerances. In the event of a dispute between growers involving a variety mix, AuSPICA will provide mediation services to the parties and may impose a crop compliance fee of up to $5000 in the event that it is found that a grower has supplied seed lots that have excessive variety mixes. AuSPICA reserves the right to withhold the supply of labels to growers that have repeatedly supplied lots with variety mixes.
In conducting mediation, DNA fingerprinting may be used by AuSPICA to confirm the identification of variety mixes and origins of seed stocks.
The new item in the AuSPICA Certified Seed Growers Code of Professional Conduct reads as:
Item 12 Members must ensure that potato variety is correct as stated on the official certification label. If a variety mix is determined for a seed lot that is supplied to another grower under a black label, AuSPICA will provide mediation between the affected parties and may impose a crop compliance fee of up to $5000 to the producer of the defected seed lot. In so doing, DNA fingerprinting may be used by AuSPICA to confirm the identification of variety mixes and origin of seed stocks.
A full of of the AuSPICA Certified Seed Growers Code of Professional Conduct is available on the AuSPICA website.