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  • Karen Withers

Seed Quality vs Seed health, what’s the difference?

Most seed exports are screened for both Seed Quality and Seed Health. It’s crucial to understand the difference between the two and how to obtain results appropriately for your destination. Doing this incorrectly or not providing the proper forms can cause your seed to be rejected at the importing country.


Seed Quality quantifies the factors that will influence the potential performance of a seed lot. Good Seed Quality shows high uniformity and successful establishment once planted. Think of it as a “beauty contest” for a crop. If you were to plant the seed would it all look the same with good germination, even growth and free of weeds?

Seed Quality testing most commonly analyzes the purity and germination of a seed lot. Purity shows the amount of; pure seed, other crop seed, weed seed, and inert matter (AOSA rules). Germination determines the amount of emergence of normal plants under favorable conditions.

Seed Health focuses on the presence of any disease-causing organisms, such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, or pests such as nematodes and insects within a seed lot. Like humans, plants are greatly affected by diseases which can quickly destroy a crop. Planting healthy seed is a prerequisite for successful and sustainable production.

Seed Health can be determined through a visual inspection which screens for live pests, pathogens, plant debris, soil and weed seeds or by laboratory tests. Inspection requirements depend on the importing country.

While Seed Quality and Seed Health are independent of one another they can greatly impact each other. If seed has high moisture due to water saturation, high humidity or poor storage it can cause fungi, likewise if the seed has developed a fungus or virus it can negatively affect seed germination.

Seed Quality testing will result in an Analysis Certificate whereas Seed Health testing is required for your Phytosanitary Certificate. Often both are required for your exports.


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