Organic became all the rage about the turn of the century when Millennials took control of much of the food-consuming population. The popularity of the healthy supermarket chain, Whole Foods fueled the “organic is healthy” fire.
This Pritish Kumar Halder guidance will help you to know more about Organic Seeds.
Definition of organic seeds
Organic seeds are seeds that have come from plants grown strictly without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
The use of sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering is also prohibited in organic seed harvesting.
When seeds are labeled as organic, it means the seed has a distinct legal meaning. To certify a batch of seeds as organic seeds, the seeds must follow all of the USDA’s National Organic Program’s rules and specifications.
Maximum Yield Explains Organic Seed
The term organic refers to a food or fiber product that has been produced through methods approved by a third-party inspector. Organic practices integrate biological, cultural, and mechanical farming practices that encourage the cycling of resources, conserve biodiversity, and promote ecological balance. Organic agriculture does not allow the use of genetic engineering and chemical pest control.
Some of the regulations state that there should be no harvesting of prohibited substances on the land where the organic seeds are to grow. There should have also been no prior harvests of prohibited substances in the past three years.
Also, the whole operation of organic seed certification must be conducted according to an organic system plan that is approved and regularly inspected by a USDA-accredited institution.
Organic seeds farming have to deal with these challenges:
Farmers grow organic produce by not using any chemicals for fertilizer, weed control, or pesticides. This keeps the organic produce free of chemical residue. Growers still need to use methods to control pests and weeds, but instead of using chemicals, organic growers use mechanical means to remove weeds or pests — such as hoeing — or a substance that has been approved for organic growing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances, which enumerates what options organic farmers have to deal with these challenges.
For a seed to be organic, the plant it came from must have been grown organically, and it must not be treated with any chemicals after harvest. When organic growing first came to national prominence, large quantities of seeds that came from chemical-free plants weren’t available. Organic seeds for most agriculturally valuable crops are now available, though some crop seed quantities remain limited. The USDA, therefore, allows farmers to call their produce organic, despite being grown from seed that isn’t organic, if there is no organic source and the farmer otherwise follows an organic regimen. Unfortunately, using nonorganic seeds when organic seeds are available decertifies the plot the seed was planted in for three years.
Growers sometimes treat nonorganic seeds with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial chemicals before packaging to give them an advantage in fighting fungal and bacterial seedling foes, once they germinate. You can get untreated seeds, but growers produced these seeds using an intensive chemical regimen. Home growers who can’t find organic seeds might settle for untreated seeds, although they are neither commonly found locally nor truly organic.
Scientists create genetically modified organisms by inserting segments of DNA from one organism into another, usually across species, to produce traits that they can’t produce through normal breeding methods. Some GMO seeds grow into plants that are resistant to the chemicals that the same company sells for weed control. That means that farmers can use higher levels of weed killer while growing these plants. If you are interested in organic farming, this is the opposite of what you want in a seed, and GMO seeds are not organic.
Agricultural companies develop seeds for a variety of qualities including high yields, shipping endurance, and extended freshness of the edible part of the plant. Often, to produce seeds that grow into plants that have these properties, the breeders have to combine two plant lines to get offspring that meet their goals. This is because the second generation of seeds doesn’t produce the same vigor as the first generation, f1, crosses. The upshot of this process is that the home grower has to purchase new seeds every year. If you want to harvest seeds from the plants you grow yourself, and therefore control how the plants are fertilized and treated, what you want are heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds are often also organic, but they need not be. Read the label to be sure.
What It Means to Be Certified
The National Organic Program (NOP) requires crop and plant producers to use organic seeds, annual seedlings and planting stock within their operations. By definition, organic seeds refer to seeds that are untreated or treated only with allowed substances found on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
If growers plant seed treated with a prohibited substance, the land itself must wait three years to become certified. NOP considers planting treated seeds the same as applying the prohibited substance directly to the soil.
Exceptions to the NOP Seed Policy
Despite the restrictions imposed by the NOP, there are very specific instances when the requirements of the National Organic Program can be ignored:
- An organic producer is allowed to use non-organically produced, 0untreated seeds and planting stock to produce an organic crop if there is no organic seed variety commercially available in their area.
- An organically produced seed must, without exception, be used if the crop in question is an edible sprout or an annual transplant.
Because NOP guidelines dictate that you must use organic seeds unless the organic variety is unavailable, a good faith effort is required on the part of the grower to locate organic seeds for their use. Because organic seeds aren’t always available, the majority of organic growers are in agreement that the exception policies are fair. However, some growers who work hard to find organic seed, along with consumers who feel strongly about “going organic,” from the soil up, don’t agree with the exceptions.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) points out that the development of the organic seed industry, along with the increased commercial availability of organically grown seeds, is the key to assuring organic seed use by growers.
What If You Can’t Find Organic Seeds?
An organic certification agent can grant the right to use alternative seeds when an organically grown variety is commercially unavailable. However, a grower must follow some rules to use non-organic seeds.
- A grower must make a good faith effort to find and use organic seed before turning to non-organic seed. It includes contacting a minimum of three organic seed suppliers to see if organic seeds are available. Written evidence of contact with the suppliers is required and may include letters, faxes, e-mail correspondence, and phone logs.
- Growers who do use non-organic seed must inform their certification agent about the percentage of organic seed vs. total seed used per acre of land.
- Growers must supply their organic certification agent with records that include justification for non-organic seed use.
Certified organic seeds for crops and other organic agricultural uses have been a long-standing problem within the organic industry. Both seed availability and debates over organic vs. non-organic seed production systems equally play a part. An increase in the number of chemical products used on seed crops may occur due to the length of time the crops remain in the field. As a result plant disease and insects get more time to attack the crop during seed maturation. With this factor playing a role in conventional seed production, the challenges of organic seed production are increased. Want to learn more? Contact Pritish Kumar Halder, who has some awesome resources to explore your knowledge.
Composed by: Suma Sarker