Seed Health Testing Services

Plant Health Solutions provides specialist seed health testing services for a range of crop and pathogen combinations. Prices vary according to the crop/pathogen combination and the number of lots, samples, sub-samples or quantity of seeds, tested, with discounts for multiple lots/samples tested at the same time, so please contact us or submit an enquiry form with your requirements and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Some examples of seed tests that we can offer can be found here. For some crop/pathogen combinations it may be possible to perform the test non-destructively and return the seed to the customer.

Healthy seeds are the basis for healthy crops. Many of the most important diseases of vegetables are seed-borne. In today's demanding market conditions and with pressure to reduce pesticide usage, a clean start is essential for conventional growers and even more important for organic growers. You can't tell the health status of a seed lot just by looking at it, so it essential to have it tested it to ensure it meets appropriate standards. For some seed-borne diseases testing is the only disease management option.

Quality assurance is key in seed health testing, so it is important that it is performed by people with a high level of understanding of the value and performance of a particular seed health assay, especially in terms of the detection limits and sensitivity. Steve Roberts of Plant Health Solutions was a member of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) Seed Health Committee for many years and, with other key members of the committee, was instrumental in devising the current format for the ISTA seed health testing methods and also in developing and implementing the ISTA Method Validation Programme. He is the co-author of several of the ISTA methods and has written several publications on seed health tests and their interpretation.

Seed health standards are not defined for many vegetable crops. Growers often assume that the vegetable seed they buy meets minimum health standards. This is not the case and whilst most reputable seed companies do test their seed for certain important pathogens, they are not obliged to do so and set their own standards. Most vegetable seed is sold as 'standard' seed and in England the relevant legislation [The Vegetable Seeds (England) 2002 Regulations] states:

Diseases and harmful organisms which reduce the usefulness
of the seed must be at the lowest achievable level

thus there are effectively no 'official' seed health standards. Plant Health Solutions can advise on the appropriate sample sizes required to achieve specific seed health standards. For seed companies, Plant Health Solutions can advise on and design cost-effective seed testing programmes to meet quality assurance standards and to minimise both producer's and consumers' risk.