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Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis
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Genetic Purity

Genetic purity refers to the percentage of contamination by seeds or genetic material of other varieties or species. The genetic purity of any commercial agricultural product propagated by seed begins with the purity of the seed planted. In general, the genetic purity of the seed planted must equal or exceed the final product purity standard required, as purity generally decreases with each subsequent generation of propagation.

It is virtually impossible to assure that no off-type plants or pollen is present in the seed production field and that all handling and conveyance equipment and storage facilities are completely free of contamination. As a result, commercial planting seed is seldom 100% pure. In practice, practical seed genetic purity standards have been established by state seed laws and by seed certification agencies to ensure that the purchaser receives seed that is within certain purity tolerances.

These tolerances are established based on the biology of the species (i.e., self- or cross-pollinated), the type of variety (i.e., open-pollinated, hybrid, synthetic), and market-driven standards for final product quality. Earlier generations of seed (e.g., foundation or registered seed) have stricter standards in order to be able to meet the certified seed purity criteria. The main sources of contamination of a seed crop are the prior crop grown in a field, transfer of pollen from a nearby field, and mixtures during harvesting and handling.

 

 

information presented by SeedQuest and The Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis

 


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