North Dakota State Seed Department Offices to Close for the Public
Effective March 18, the North Dakota State Seed Department offices in Fargo and Grafton are closed to the public.
“We are taking this action to help prevent the spread of coronavirus to our employees so that operations can continue uninterrupted,” said Steve Sebesta, N.D. State Seed Department deputy commissioner, quoted by willistonherald.com. Most seed samples already arrive by mail, Sebesta added, but the rear entry door will still be available for sample drop-off for those who prefer to deliver samples in person.
The State Seed Department is the largest seed certification agency in the U.S. in terms of seed production acres. As a result, the department’s labs perform an estimated 20,000 tests each year on nearly 90 different crop kinds to support the seed industry in North Dakota. The department operates two labs at its offices on the North Dakota State University campus. Among other specialized tests, the seed lab analyzes samples for purity and germination, factors required for certification and labeling according to state and federal seed laws. The diagnostic lab performs tests to determine the presence of seed-borne diseases as well as genetic tests to verify the identity of the varieties offered for sale as certified seed.
The department also houses a greenhouse in which potato mini-tubers are produced for the state’s seed potato growers. The tissue culture lab produces genetically pure potato clones as a source of seedstock for that greenhouse. Operations to maintain these critical functions will continue.
“March and April are typically the busiest months for seed testing as seed producers, retailers and farmers rush to complete certification of their products or determine the quality of seed they may have retained for planting. On average, the labs perform more than 6,300 different tests in March and April, almost a third of the annual total,” says Sebesta.