Seed Notes October 2018

CCIA Bylaw Amendment Notification

The CCIA recently proposed changes to its bylaws in order to address shifting membership distribution within the state. The Board of Directors and Membership have elected to accept the proposed bylaw amendments for the redistricting proposal which alters the current district boundaries.  
Following is a summary of the changes to the CCIA bylaws: 
Change: Total number of directors on the board.
Section 3.01. Number. The number of directors on the Board shall be no less than eleven (11) and no more than sixteen (16). The exact number of current directors shall be fixed by a majority vote of the Board. The directors shall be elected or appointed as follow(s): 
Change: Reduce the number of districts from eight (8) to five (5)
(a). One director shall be elected from each of the following districts:  
District I- Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. 
District II – Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, and Tulare counties
District III- Alpine, Amador, Alameda, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Marin, Mariposa, Mono, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties. 
District IV – El Dorado, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties. 
District V- Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity counties. 
Change: The number of At-Large Directors on the board. 
(c). The Board shall appoint not less than two (2) nor more than five (5) directors – at- large. 
Section 3.04 Terms of Office
Change : The term limit for appointed directors at- large.
(c). Appointed Directors-at-Large. The term of office of each appointed director-at-large shall be four (4) years, with no limit on the number of terms served. The Board shall appoint or re-appoint Directors-at-Large every (4) four years. 
A complete copy of the CCIA Bylaws can be found on the website.

Seed Sampler Training Dates

Timothy sampling seedThe Federal and State Truth-in-Labeling Seed Laws protect the grower and other seed purchasers by requiring that seed producers and other sellers obtain a representative seed sample from a lot that should be sent to a seed laboratory for a seed test. The test results provide the information that must be shown on labels for that seed lot.  Seed sampling is therefore a first step in the seed testing procedure that should accurately describe the quality of a seed lot. Five years ago the CCIA started a certified seed sampler training program that emphasizes collection of representative samples to assure accuracy and uniformity of seed samples sent for testing. An Accredited Seed Sampler Trainer (Alex Mkandawire) by the Association of American Seed Control Officials (AASCO) conducts the training for the CCIA under AASCO’s oversight. This training workshop is intended for the county Agricultural Commissioner and responsible seed warehouse personnel that sample seed for testing under AOSA rules. Certification for seed sampling is valid for 3 years. During the past 5 years CCIA has certified about 500 seed samplers and about 150 more have been re-certified for a further 3 years. Last year’s trainings were conducted at Red Bluff, Davis, Fresno, Tulare, Holtville and Oxnard. This fall the CCIA has planned to conduct seed sampler training workshops as follows: 

  • Sacramento Valley on November 29th in Davis, CA
  • Coastal region on December 5th at Camarillo, CA
  • Monsanto Seeds on December 6th in Oxnard, CA. 

Plans for next spring’s seed sampler training workshops are for the Sacramento Valley, Central Valley and Imperial Valley on dates and venues that will be announced soon.

Research Funds Awarded

Research fees are collected on several crops; the funds collected are awarded each year for research to improve these crops. Research grants were awarded at the June Board of Directors meeting as follows:

$33,000 - Dr. Dan Putnam “Alfalfa experimental variety and germplasm adaptation and evaluation”
$32,827 - Dr. Charles Brummer “Developing new alfalfa cultivars for California”

$183,507 - California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association for research of their choice

Small Grains
$75,000 - Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky “Development of wheat varieties for California”
$50,000 - Dr. Mark Lundy “Evaluation of small grains in California”
$25,000 - Dr. Alicia del Blanco “Breeding malting barley for California”
$10,000 - Dr. Alicia del Blanco “Oat improvement for California”

Investigating Allegations of Counterfeit Certified CUF-101 Alfalfa

sampling from trailerAllegations of counterfeit Certified CUF-101 alfalfa have circulated for many decades.  Adulterated, counterfeit Certified CUF 101 creates a glut of planting seed in the marketplace, resulting in lower prices for all non-dormant alfalfa seed – public and proprietary.  The performance, quality and reputation of Certified CUF 101 is also compromised when adulterated CUF 101 is marketed as certified seed.

Until recently, we lacked the ability to conclusively “fingerprint” alfalfa varieties.  However, Dr. Charlie Brummer (head of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center) proposed that we should be able to use single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to accurately identify alfalfa varieties.  What are SNPs?  Single nucleotide polymorphisms, often abbreviated as ‘SNPs’ (pronounced snips), are variations in single nucleotide base pairs that occur at specific positions in the genome, where each variation is present to some appreciable degree within a population.  Most commonly, these variations are found in the DNA between genes (the junk DNA) and can act as biological markers.

A project was launched in the fall of 2015.  CCIA Staff along with two Imperial County Ag Inspectors and one CDFA Seed Enforcement Inspector from Riverside County collected samples from 256 lots of CUF 101 alfalfa seed from seed processing facilities in Imperial County and Fresno County that had conditioned CUF-101 in 2014 and/or 2015.  Seed storage boxes were probed when possible, but more commonly, it was necessary to divide file samples using a riffle divider.  Of the 256 lots sampled, twenty were selected for genetic analysis.  The work was performed at UC Davis by Dr. Charlie Brummer and graduate student Scott Newell.  Plants were grown in the greenhouse in the winter of 2015-16 to obtain tissue for DNA extraction.  All of the preparations for DNA sequencing (normalization, quantification and library construction) were completed and the DNA was sent away to be sequenced by a third party.  Statistical analysis of the data showed definite separations among lots.  Preliminary conclusions indicated that we could definitely distinguish true CUF 101 and from adulterated CUF 101.
Field observation plots were implemented in 2016.  Seeds from each of the 256 lots that were sampled were planted at UC Davis in early May in an augmented design with blocks of 20 plots that included four standards in each block.  Standards included SW 9628, FGI's 9S903, and Alforex's PGI-908S plus the latest generation of Foundation CUF 101.  All available historic CUF foundation seed lots from cold storage were also planted.  Some of the greenhouse plants grown from certified seed lots (and from which DNA had been sampled and tested) were also transplanted in the observation trial.  Variations were definitely observed among lots of CUF 101.

In the summer of 2018, two additional rounds of random sampling took place in the Imperial Valley.  The first round of sampling was conducted by CCIA personnel between July 15 and July 18.  The second round of sampling took place between August 21 and August 23.  In all, thirty-eight samples were collected from steel bins, bulk bags, truck trailers, as well as seed curls harvested from the field.  These samples were submitted to the Brummer Lab at UC Davis for SNP analysis.  Results of this testing should be known in the coming months.

In the future, the CCIA plans to continue this program of random sampling and SNP testing of certified alfalfa seed lots produced in California.  The program is similar to “Random Drug Testing” as practiced in professional sports and should help “level the playing field” for all alfalfa seed producers.  
The California Crop Improvement Association would like to thank Alforex Seeds, S&W Seed Company and Forage Genetics for their generous support of Dr. Brummer’s initial research.

New Foundation Wheat Isolation Standards

wheatThe CCIA Certification Technical Committee recently recommended the following changes to the Small Grains Certification Standards (these changes were approved by the CCIA Board of Directors on September 24, 2018):

Barley, and Oat, Triticale and Wheat
Fields need not be isolated from other grain but must have a definite boundary such as a fence, ditch, roadway, levee, or barren strip at least ten (10) feet wide.

Triticale, Common Wheat, and Durum Wheat
A field producing the Foundation class must be isolated by at least 65’ from fields of any other variety of the same species.  Registered and Certified classes need not be isolated from other grain  but must have a definite boundary such as a fence, ditch, roadway, levee, or barren strip at least ten (10) feet wide.

A field producing any class of certified seed must be isolated by at least 660 feet from fields of any other variety or fields of the same variety that do not meet the varietal purity requirements of the class of seed inspected and are of the same chromosome number.

Periodically, high levels of off-types are observed in wheat and genetic testing has demonstrated that, in some instances, this is a consequence from pollen-flow at the breeder or Foundation level.  Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky agrees that an increase in the isolation distance is justified.  The main company/organization to be affected by this change would be the Foundation Seed Program at UCD. 

According to a study using the blue aleurone trait (Pollen-Mediated Gene Flow from Blue Aleurone Wheat to Other Wheat Cultivars), the probability of contamination starts to fall below 0.01% (1:10,000, which is the Foundation and Registered field standard) between 15-20 meters isolation when looking at data from the location that had the highest levels of gene-flow.  20 meters = 65.6 feet.  A separate study on triticale gene flow (Pollen-Mediated Gene Flow in Triticale) also demonstrated that the current 10 feet separation for triticale is insufficient.

The Foundation Seed Program could accomplish a 65’ isolation distance if barley/oat/durum wheat is planted between the common wheat production, and if barley/oat/common wheat is planted between the durum production.  This standard change would bring the CCIA more in line with some other western state (i.e. ID at 90’; WA at 50’; KS at 50’).

Clarification of ‘Field Eligibility’ Standard in Rice

The CCIA Certification Technical Committee recommended the following changes to add clarity to the Rice Certification Standards (these changes were approved by the CCIA Board of Directors in September 24, 2018):

Fields for certification must not have grown rice the previous year unless the rice was the same variety planted for certification and met field inspection requirements for varietal purity.  Fields transitioning from commercial production or from certified production of a different variety must be applied for as “Field Inspection Only” to make a field eligible for seed production of that variety in the following year.  “Field Inspection Only” fields must be planted with Foundation or Registered seed and meet field inspection requirements for the Certified class.

This is not a standard change, but a clarification.  Periodically, rice seed applicants are unclear concerning the previous crop history requirement.  In rice, fields must be applied for as “Field Inspection Only” and not be harvested for seed when companies are changing varieties in a field or moving from commercial rice production to seed production.  Currently, the CCIA website makes no reference to “Field Inspection Only,” and this wording revision to the rice standard will provide additional clarity.

CTC Variety Approvals

The Certification Technical Committee (CTC) is a committee, advisory to the Board of Directors, charged with reviewing eligibility of varieties for certification, changing or developing new field and seed certification standards, and managing technical matters pertaining to seed certification.  The CTC usually meets in January, April and August.  “Applications for Variety Certification” for consideration at the January meeting are due by December 16th. For more information about the CTC and downloading an “Application for Variety Certification” see the CCIA web site at Certification Technical Committee.

Scholarship Awarded

Jorge GarciaThe CCIA is very happy to award a $2,000 scholarship to Jorge Garcia from California State University Fresno. Jorge was born in Visalia, CA.  His family emigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico in hope for a better life.
He is pursuing a college education in plant health and is proud to follow in the steps of his older brother, Charlie, to become the second in his family to graduate from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in Plant Science. 
His experience in agriculture began when he was 14, picking tomatoes and other crops through the years.
For the past four years at CSUF, he has been working on a cotton-breeding project for UC Davis alongside Farm Advisor Steven Wright and UCCE Cotton Specialist Dr. Bob Hutmacher.  They are developing cotton germplasm that is resistant to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. vasinfectum race 4.  During this time he has learned a tremendous amount about host resistance and the benefits of crop improvement. 
In the future, he plans to pursue a master’s degree at Fresno State. The CCIA scholarship will help him cover school expenses and allow him to achieve this goal.

How to Become a Voting Member 

ccia logoIt is that time of year again to renew your CCIA membership. Membership is renewed annually at the beginning of the new crop year on October 1st. It is important to keep your membership information current in order to remain informed on the issues facing the organization. CCIA staff use the membership election information when we are disseminating information about the organization, upcoming events, or changes to the certification program. 
The qualifications for membership in the California Crop Improvement Association (CCIA) are as follows:

Qualifications and Rights of Voting Membership. The Association is organized with members, but without capital stock. Any producer or conditioner, as defined in the CCIA Bylaws, who has produced or conditioned seed within the last four crop years, shall be eligible for voting membership on approval by the Board or its designee of a membership application and signing of a membership agreement and the payment of such fees and dues as the Board may fix from time to time, if any.

Each voting member who is not a natural person shall designate in writing the individual who shall exercise the voting rights and be eligible to serve on the Board on behalf of the member. The designation shall be filed with the Secretary of the corporation and shall be maintained with the corporate records. Said designation may be changed by written notice to the Secretary of the corporation.

Qualifications and Rights of Non-voting Members. The Association may also admit Associate Members who shall be non-voting members of the corporation. Any person who is interested in the purposes of the Association shall be eligible for non-voting membership on approval by the Board or its designee of a membership application and the payment of such fees and dues as the Board may fix from time to time. Associate members shall not have any of the voting or other rights afforded voting members under the California Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporation Law.

You can update your membership election at: . You will need a login to make any membership selections. Please contact Katy Soden for assistance at or 530-752-6979.

Weedy Red Rice and Rice Seed QA Program Updates

weedy red riceThe revelation of weedy red rice in numerous fields over thousands of acres throughout the entire rice production region a few years ago sparked pivotal changes for both the California rice industry and the CCIA’s rice inspection program.  To stop the further spread of weedy rice, and with the support of the rice industry, the regulations governing rice production and handling in California were amended last year (3/13/17).  These regulations were signed by the Secretary of State earlier this year (1/25/18).  Among the changes, beginning in 2019, ALL rice planted in California must be either certified seed or seed from a third party quality assurance (QA) program approved by the Rice Certification Act Advisory Board.  The QA program was designed to ensure that planting seed of varieties that cannot be certified is free of weedy-rice.  The CCIA is the only agency that has been authorized to conduct a rice seed QA program.
The “CCIA Rice Seed QA Program” began in 2017 and seed fields are actively being approved in 2018 in preparation for the planting requirements taking effect in 2019.  

rice testThis season, four CCIA inspectors conducted field inspections of 27,740 acres of rice,  3.5% of these acres were under the QA program.  Seed of any suspect plants are tested with a potassium hydroxide solution as a way to ensure they are not red rice. 
New finds of weedy red rice in commercial production have been much fewer this year than the past few years.  One new type of weedy rice was discovered in September, bringing the total number of different types up to six.  To learn more about the different types or review the best management practices, check out: 

The California Rice Research Board funded a genetic study that was conducted (not yet published) on the five well-documented weedy rice types, showing their relatedness to each other, to rice cultivars, and to other weedy rice worldwide.  Other studies are still in process.

Known populations of weedy rice are under active management.  Some weedy rice populations in fields have already been significantly diminished, and in some cases eradicated.  This is true especially of “Type 2” (awnless, bronze-hull) and “Type 5” (awnless, straw-hull, purple-colored node) as these types generally have a lower dormancy.  Types 1, 3, and 4 have demonstrated to be more persistent, but control efforts are moving in a positive direction.

Industrial Hemp Update

Alex in hemp field

The Marihuana Tax Act (1937) defined Cannabis as a ‘narcotic’ drug and the Controlled Substances Act (1970) outlawed the plant as a ‘Schedule I’ drug. However, under a new definition that sets Marijuana and Industrial Hemp apart (by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration), the Agricultural Act [2014] allowed states to produce industrial hemp, which is a Cannabis plant with 0.3% THC content or less. The California Hemp Farming Act [2017] also allowed production of industrial hemp in California under this new definition. California is processing a number of industrial hemp products using raw materials that are imported largely from Europe, Canada, China, and India. The aim is to boost local production of raw materials within the state to reduce imports. The Industrial Hemp Advisory Board (IHAB) to the Secretary of Agriculture decided that all industrial hemp production in California must be from certified planting stock of approved varieties. The two major international certification organizations, AOSCA and OECD, have lists of approved varieties, with low THC, that the CCIA has approved for the production of certified seed in California. AOSCA has developed an Industrial Hemp Standard that the CCIA has used to develop the California Industrial Hemp Standard. AOSCA is also currently establishing an Industrial Hemp Variety Review Board that should be operational in 2019. The CCIA continues to be involved in the IHAB and California Hemp Association meetings by making presentations about the Industrial Hemp Seed Certification process. The current Farm Bill has provision for further defining industrial hemp as an agricultural crop under the purview of the USDA. The amended State Law recognizes Cannabidiol (CBD) as a product of industrial hemp. These laws are expected to be signed by the President and Governor, respectively, towards the end of fall 2018. Certified industrial hemp seed production is expected to start in 2019 as soon as the County Agricultural Commissioners formalize the registration process.

Wildland Collected Species and Pre-Variety Germplasm Program Update

wildland collectionCalifornia is unique in that there is a large diversity of plant species growing in the wild in a number of different ecological zones spanning from the coast to the Sierra Mountains. Almost every year vast areas where these species grow experience wild fires. Highway and private home construction are an order of the day in urban areas. There is need to rehabilitate these areas with the original wildland species after devastating fires and construction, respectively. The CCIA is involved in documentation of seed collection sites and increase of such wildland plant materials. An Application Form for Site Pre-Collection Field Inspection is available on the CCIA website, under Quality Assurance Programs, for all wildland seed collectors from within the state and from outside the state. This year the CCIA conducted pre-collection site field inspections in Santa Rosa, Bakersfield, Mono Lake, Susanville, Maxwell, and San Simeon. We have also setup a yellow ‘Source-Identified’ tag system that is linked to the site inspections under this program. The G0 seed collected from such sites may be ‘yellow’-tagged for shipping and planting elsewhere. In some instances, these collectors/growers wish to plant these collections in order to increase seed amounts to G1 and so forth. The CCIA therefore established a process in which native seed companies will be able to submit applications for both the Pre-Collection Site Inspections and for their field applications. This year there were seed fields in Santa Maria and Winters. The CCIA continues to add Standards for the different native species of interest to our clients using similar standards from AOSCA and its agencies as templates for uniformity. 

Redesign of CCIA Website 

The CCIA website is in need of an upgrade so watch for the new and improved version soon. The upgrade is necessary due to changes in the software that runs the site. The new site will be attractive and easy to navigate.

2018 Crop Year Statistics – Acres Applied and Acres Approved

2014-2018 Applied and Approved Acreage Report (larger format & link to pdf)
2014-2018 acreage report

2017 and 2018 Applied and Approved acres for Heritage Grains, PVG Crops, and Rice

2017-2018 QA acreage report