The purpose of the California Crop Improvement Association (CCIA) is to provide seed certification service, a voluntary quality assurance program for the maintenance and increase of agronomic and vegetable crop seed. Each variety that is entered into this program has been evaluated for its unique characteristics such as pest resistance, adaptability, uniformity, quality, and yield. Seed production is closely monitored by CCIA to prevent out-crossing, weed, other crop and disease contamination that may negatively affect seed quality.
A UC Advisory Committee comprised of a representative from the UC Davis College of Agriculture, UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, and UC Davis Foundation Seed Program provide the Board with guidance and recommendations as needed.
California Certified Seed is produced under strict standards established by the CCIA Board of Directors and the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA). Seed certification is conducted with the supervision of the California Agricultural Experiment Station, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension and County Agricultural Commissioners.
The California Crop Improvement Association is the official seed certifying agency in California as recognized by California Seed Law. In addition, when the United States became a participant in the international seed certification scheme administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), CCIA became the designated authority to conduct the OECD program in California. The OECD is responsible for administering the seed certification program in member countries and non-member countries that participate in the scheme. All cereal, herbage and oil, and maize and sorghum seed exported to European Union countries must be produced under OECD guidelines.
Certification genetic purity standards are well-defined because when purity is compromised, insect and disease resistance, crop quality and uniformity can be reduced.
An additional seed quality characteristic that is monitored in certification is germination, with minimum requirements for certified seed ranging from 80-90% depending on crop species. Seed movement is monitored by CCIA from field harvest, through the condition plant, and in the bag. Seed samples are taken at the time of conditioning and are closely examined in the seed laboratory. Seed must meet minimum germination and purity standards. Purity is tested not only for inert, weed and other crop seed, but also for its true-to-type nature. Seed morphological characteristics are noted in variety description files and seed appearance is checked against what the breeder has described. Samples can be rejected if “off-type” seeds are found at a percentage that is greater than standards permit, as is occasionally the case with beans, cereals and sunflowers.