Alabama Seed Labs

The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries’ seed lab helps ensure that farmers and other consumers can purchase good-quality seed that is truthfully described on the attached label or tag.

The lab deals almost soley with seeds that grow food crops, rather than those that grow flowers, shrubs and other ornamentals.

“With ornamental seeds on rare occasion, we will investigate a package only if there is a complaint, but we don’t have enough people to cover that aspect of growing – plus those seeds are rarely an issue,” says Andrae McMillian, seed lab director. “Our focus is food crops, whether it’s corn, wheat, soybeans, alfalfa and so forth. We also inspect food mixtures for deer, turkey and quail that contain crop seeds such as peanuts, millets, wheat and soybeans.”

McMillian says seed lab analysts and technicians test packaged seeds for accuracy of purity, the presence of noxious weed seed, and germination claims made on the labels.

“For example, if a seed package is labeled soybeans, we first make sure it is soybeans,” he says. “If the label says it will grow to 85 percent of its maximum size, we also verify that it will grow within a reasonable tolerance of that 85 percent. In addition, the lab makes sure that only a certain small percentage of weed content can be in the seeds, which is especially important with grass seeds that livestock will graze upon.”

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