California Crop Improvement Association
University of California
California Crop Improvement Association

Quality Assurance Programs


The California Crop Improvement Association (CCIA) Quality Assurance Program (Program) provides a uniform and unbiased quality control system and marketing tool for crop seeds that cannot be verified and merchandised as a class of certified seed as defined by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). The CCIA has adopted the following rules and standards in order to ensure the availability of quality seeds that have been produced, harvested, conditioned, sampled, handled and labeled so as to preserve their essential genetic identity and consistency.


1. To provide coordinated, professional, unbiased field inspections and laboratory testing for quality control in seed production, conditioning and marketing.

2. To provide an unbiased record system for use in meeting state and federal seed law requirements and to help solve potential problems with customers and seed suppliers.

3. To provide a retail or wholesale marketing image of sound quality control assurance for selling seed products not using seed certification programs.

4. To provide seed buyers with assurance that a designated seed product has met genetic purity standards related to a known description across lots and years of production and to facilitate product identification.

General Requirements

The minimum quality assurance standards described below must be met in order to participate in the Quality Assurance Program (Program). The Program shall cover planting stocks of germplasm entities* produced, conditioned, sampled, and labeled in accordance with these standards.

* The term “germplasm entity” as referenced in this Program is defined as a heritage variety, cultivar, or landrace population in the public domain that is not eligible for traditional certification but which has been officially documented and described for applicable visible, phenotypic traits by an entity such as the USDA, or other organization approved by the CCIA. Approval of germplasm entities by the CCIA is contingent upon demonstration of distinctive, stable and uniform characteristics.

To participate in the Program, participants in the Program must obtain seed of the earliest available generation of a germplasm entity from an official seed repository administered by the USDA or other entity approved by the CCIA. This seed will constitute “Original Source Seed” in the seed production scheme of the Program as described below.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Eligibility for participation in the QA program is determined by the CCIA.
  2. The following items must be made available by the applicant when eligibility for a Quality Assurance Program is requested:
    1. The name of the germplasm entity. This name must be the established name if the germplasm has previously been described and documented.
    2. A statement concerning the variety’s origin and development (if available) signed by the applicant.
    3. A detailed description of morphological, physiological, and other characteristics of the plants and seed that distinguish the germplasm entity from other varieties or germplasm entities. Applicant should include a statement describing any expected variation of the germplasm entity.
    4. A statement delineating the geographic area or areas of adaptation of the germplasm entity.
    5. For seed products labeled by a brand designation in lieu of the germplasm entity name, the words ‘variety-not-stated’ must accompany the brand designation.
    6. Any varieties, including Public varieties, eligible to be marketed as a class of certified seed are not eligible to be labeled under the QA Program.

Quality Assurance (QA) Guidelines

  1. Field Inspection Applications will be submitted to the CCIA identifying the field(s) to be inspected. Germplasm Entities must conform to the accepted description.
  2. Field inspection will be performed by the CCIA using the same field sampling system used for certified seed production. A minimum of 3,000 plants will be evaluated. General field conditions will be reported along with other information requested by the applicant.
  3. The genetic standards for QA production will be the genetic standards for the equivalent certified class of seed of the crop being inspected as published by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA).
  4. Planters must be thoroughly cleaned and inspected prior to planting. Harvesters, conveyance devices, and storage equipment must be cleaned of other seed prior to harvest.
  5. After fields pass inspection, a unique QA number will be assigned by the CCIA. This number must accompany the seed lot thereafter.
  6. Seed conditioning facilities must be approved or accredited by the CCIA and inspected prior to conditioning seed.
  7. Individuals drawing representative seed samples must be accredited certified seed samplers.
  8. A representative seed sample from the cleaned lot will be submitted to an approved seed laboratory and tested for varietal purity, germination and physical purity by a Registered Seed Technologist in accordance with the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) rules for testing seed. The varietal purity standard shall be the AOSCA genetic standards for the equivalent certified class of seed of the crop being tested.
  9. QA tags will be printed and issued by the CCIA for seed meeting the QA field and laboratory standards for genetic purity. The tags shall be green in color and have printed on them the QA logo (a registered trademark), the phrase “Quality Assurance”, and “Member of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies”. The QA tag will be imprinted with kind, germplasm entity designation, and generation number (QA1, QA2, or QA3). The tag will also contain the lot number and the assigned QA number. Upon request, analysis information may be printed on the tag.
  10. If requested, bulk seed movement and bulk sales certificates shall be the same as for certified seed.
  11. Approved conditioner guidelines shall be the same as for certified seed.

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