ISTA Certificates

ista-certificatesAs an Accredited Lab of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), the OSU Seed Lab is authorized to issue ISTA certificates. This service begain in June 2009.

Blue Certificates are test reports for seed samples. They do not represent a seed lot; therefore, sampling is the responsibility of the customer. We can issue these certificates on any sample, regardless of origin or lot location.

Orange Certificates are test reports that represent whole seed lots. To ensure that the certificate accurately represents the seed lot, the lab is responsible for both sampling and testing. Our samplers are located in the Pacific Northwest region, and California.

Here is some basic information to help get customers acquainted with the ISTA Certificate program.

Please also visit our ISTA FAQ page. This page is updated frequently as questions arise.

ISTA Basic Information

ISTA is the International Seed Testing Association. The OSU Seed Lab is an ISTA Accredited Member Lab. Learn more about ISTA by visiting their website.

PURPOSE OF ISTA CERTIFICATES

Many seed importing countries require an international certificate issued by an ISTA accredited laboratory. An ISTA certificate from the originating country can verify acceptability by the importer before the seed is shipped and can speed the process through customs and quarantine, preventing potential delays and economic problems for the shipper and/or the importer. The certificate comes in two colors, depending on customer needs: orange and blue.

TYPES OF CERTIFICATES

ISTA Orange International Seed Lot Certificate. The certificate represents the seed lot as a whole; therefore, seed lot preparation, lot size, lot identification and seed sampling must follow ISTA guidelines. The lab is responsible for both sampling and testing. Our authorized samplers are located in the Pacific Northwest and California; please contact the lab to see if a sampler is available in your area, or are interested in becoming an ISTA sampler.

ISTA Blue International Seed Sample Certificate. Customers provide the seed sample which the lab then tests. The lab does not take responsibility for the sampling process and the certificate represents the submitted sample. This service can be provided for samples obtained anywhere.

Which One? It depends on what is required by the importing country/importer. Consult import requirements of the receiving country prior to sampling.

AVAILABLE TESTS

We are accredited for purity (P), other seed determination (OSD), germination (G), fluorescence (FL), tetrazolium (TZ), moisture (M) and weight determination (1000wt). The lab is also accredited to perform these tests on coated seed. As long as the customer requests an approved ISTA test such as purity or germination, results for non-ISTA tests such as grow-out or ploidy can also be reported on the ISTA certificate under Other Determinations.

SPECIES THAT CAN BE TESTED

We are accredited for all species listed in the ISTA Rules. Some species such as Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba), Seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), Chia (Salvia hispanica), and many native species are not in this list yet. ISTA certificates cannot be issued for mixtures or for species not in the ISTA Rules.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS?

Orange Certificate: The customer prepares the seed lot for sampling according to ISTA guidelines, fills out the ISTA certificate request, and sends it to the lab. We review the application for complete information, check lot size requirements against the ISTA rules and arrange for a sampler. Speed of sampling depends on sampler availability. The sampler delivers the seed sample to the lab. Upon completion of tests, the lab mails the certificate to the customer.
Blue Certificate: the customer samples the seed, fills out a request for the ISTA certificate and delivers the seed and completed application to the lab, either by mail or in person. Blue Certificates can also be ordered for samples already at the lab. Upon completion of tests, the lab mails the certificate to the customer.

WHAT ARE THE FEES?

Sampling (Orange only): Our ISTA sampling is performed by official seed samplers from several state agencies in the Northwest who have been trained on ISTA sampling and authorized by the lab. The sampling fees vary somewhat depending on what agency performs the sampling.
Testing: Fees are generally similar to our AOSA test prices which have been effective since 2008. Some prices for ISTA tests may differ somewhat from standard AOSA test fees due to differences in amounts of seed required for testing. Please see the Testing Fees page.
Certificate (Orange or Blue): included in the cost of testing. Duplicate and provisional certificates are $11 each.

Blue Certificates

What are Blue Certificates?

Blue certificates, like standard AOSA reports, are test reports for seed samples. Customers provide the seeds and the lab tests them. The test results are for the customer's use and do not officially represent lots of seed.

What is the process?

Special points of consideration

Orange Certificates

What are Orange Certificates?

Orange Certificates are test reports that through tightly controlled sampling represent entire lots of seed. They are used by customs officials in import/export.

What is the process for getting an Orange Certificate?

The process for ISTA Orange Certificates is tightly controlled.

Special points of consideration

ISTA FAQ

We've prepared this page to help address common questions regarding the ISTA Certificates.

 


General Information

Why is an ISTA certificate necessary?

Many seed importing countries require an International Seed Test Certificate issued by a laboratory that is accredited by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). Some countries such as Australia have strict requirements: i.e. “if an analysis certificate from an approved overseas laboratory does not accompany the seed lot, the consignment is sampled on arrival at the importing country which results in the lot being held in quarantine, sampled and retested.  Then the lot is delayed until analysis results are available to make a decision to accept or not. If prohibited seeds or other problems are found in the consignment, the shipper/importer has to remove the contaminant, re-export the lot or destroy it.” An ISTA certificate from the originating country makes it possible to classify contaminants and to verify acceptability by the importer before the seed is shipped and can speed the process through customs and quarantine.

Another situation is when a country such as Canada requires the lot to be tested by an ISTA accredited laboratory and graded. If a seed lot was not graded, the lot has to be sampled, tested and graded in destination. This takes time and has potential risks if problems are found in the lot. 

In any of the above cases, an international test certificate (orange or blue) by an accredited laboratory, in origin and prior to shipping, is invaluable in preventing potential delays and economic problems for the shipper and/or the importer.

What is an Orange International Certificate (OIC)?

Orange International Seed Lot Certificate represents the seed lot as a whole; therefore, seed lot preparation, lot size, lot identification and seed sampling must follow strict guidelines. The lab is responsible for both sampling and testing. Please see the Orange Certificates page for more detailed information.

What is a Blue International Certificate (BIC)?

The Blue International Seed Sample Certificate (BIC) represents only the seed sample that was tested. The sample is provided by the customer and the certificate does not officially represent the entire seed lot as does the OIC. As with the OIC, only ISTA accredited labs can issue the BIC, ensuring that the test results themselves are dependable. Because there is no sampling restriction, we can accept and test samples from customers located anywhere. Please see the Blue Certificates page for more detailed information.

How do I know if I need an Orange or Blue Certificate?

It depends on what is required by the importing country and/or importer. Because this is very often part of the seed contract, the seed lab can't determine what you need, but your importer should know. The testing rules are identical for both types of certificate.

If my seed is already certified, can the importer still require an ISTA certificate?

The importing customer may or may not require an ISTA certificate on certified seed lots. The exporter needs to check with the importer.

Does ISTA have seed quality standards like seed certification programs? 

No. Programs like Seed Certification have seed quality standards. In contrast, ISTA does not have seed quality standards as to minimum purity or germination requirements. What purity or germination levels are needed depends on your customers' needs. What ISTA does is to make sure that the test report is reliable and performed by a laboratory that has proven to be competent and authorized to perform such services.


Sampling and Samples

When should I order sampling for the OIC?

The OIC represents the lot of seed as it will be shipped, so sampling should be ordered only when the seed is ready to be shipped, after any treating or rebagging. This restriction does not apply to seed certification or other sampling and testing activities. Setting the lot down: in the Willamette Valley, samplers can be expected to arrive within a day, so the lot needs to be set down at the time the request is submitted to the lab. It is the customer's responsibility to notify the warehouse to set the lot down.

What are the ISTA lot size requirements for OIC?

The ISTA Rules specify a maximum lot size for each species. A basic rule of thumb is that agricultural and vegetable seeds smaller than wheat, including most grass species, have a maximum lot size of 10,000 kilos. Larger seeds have larger maximum lot sizes, typically from 20,000 – 30,000 kilos. Lot sizes for other types of crops such as trees and flowers vary widely.  Maximum lot sizes can be found in Chapter 2 of the ISTA Rules, which is availble on their website.

Can I treat my seed after it is tested?

No. Certificates are valid only for the seed as it was tested, so treating it will invalidate the certificate since it will no longer accurately represent the seed. ISTA Certificates require identification of treated and coated seed on the certificates themselves.

Can I rebag my seed after it has been sampled and tested for an Orange Certificate?

Rebagging is allowed provided that the identity of the seed in the initial lot is preserved, the lot number does not change, there is no processing of the seed, and an ISTA sampler is present during the entire process.

Can a BIC be issued on regular OSU samples?

The great majority of samples received at the lab are samples submitted by the Oregon Seed Certification Service and commercial samples submitted by seed companies. These samples are acceptable for Blue International Certificate (BIC) provided the necessary information to issue the certificate is provided.

If OSU already has test results based on AOSA Rules, can the results be converted for BIC?

It depends. The AOSA and ISTA Rules differ in sample size, testing procedures, and evaluation criteria for some species. If this is the case, a new test must be conducted for BIC. In most cases, we should be able to use the file sample at the lab to supply seed for the new tests.


Testing

What species is the OSU Seed Lab accredited for?

The Lab is accredited for all species listed in the ISTA Rules. Some species like Meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba), Seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), Chia (Salvia hispanica), and many native species are not in this list yet. Certificates cannot be issued for mixtures.  Please see Chapter 2 of the ISTA Rules to verify if the species can be tested for an ISTA Certificate, which is available on ISTA's website.

What tests is the OSU Seed Lab accredited for?

The lab is accredited for: purity (P), other seed determination (OSD), germination (G), fluorescence (FL), tetrazolium (TZ), moisture (M) and weight determination (1000wt). The lab is also accredited to test coated seed. Our formal scope of accreditation may be viewed on the ISTA website.

What if my customer/country requires additional tests such as ploidy, grow-out, etc. that are not in the ISTA Rules?

If a customer requires grow-out, ploidy, or other tests not in the ISTA Rules, the lab will be able to provide these additional test results on an ISTA certificate as long as the sample requests at least one ISTA test (e.g. purity, OSD, germ, etc.). The additional test results are included on the certificate under Other Determinations.

What is the Other Seed Determination (OSD) Test?

This test determines the presence of seeds other than the crop seed in the large purity sub-sample. This is similar to the crop and weed exam in the AOSA system. All seeds found are listed by number in descending order.

What is the scope of Other Seed Determination (OSD)?

This describes the quantity and species search parameters for the OSD.

Does ISTA require a fluorescence test in ryegrass samples?

Fluorescence testing is voluntary under ISTA Rules. When this test is requested, the lab will perform the test and will report the test fluorescence, but does not apply the formula to estimate percent perennial or annual ryegrass. All ryegrass samples are reported as Lolium spp. 


Certificates

Will I see names of crops and weeds listed separately on my ISTA certificate?

Only if you request it. ISTA does not make this distinction – it is up to the customer and receiving country to determine if a species is a crop or weed. Likewise, common names vary widely around the world. If you want the species listed according to a specific scheme such as US Noxious, Australia, Canada or AOSA, you need to request this when you fill out the request. There are many extra ways to report information on a certificate but the customer needs to make a specific request for this.

Who is listed as a client seed company in the ISTA certificate?

Whoever requests the ISTA certificate is who will get billed and whose name will appear on the certificate, unless otherwise requested. The applicant name is required for a Blue certificate but may be left off the Orange. There is also the option to list a different applicant name than the bill-to customer.  Please determine how this will best meet your needs, and mark clearly on the request form.

What are Provisional, Original, Duplicate certificates?

What is the fee for this service at the OSU Seed Laboratory?

For practical purposes fees are similar to the fees available for AOSA tests. Variations can occur due to sample size requirement. Please see our price list.