It’s extremely important that anyone working in a seed laboratory has a verified collection of specimens to help them retrieve, classify, and identify seeds. They are used to ensure accuracy in verifying the crop kind under analysis as well as contaminants of other crop kinds, weed seeds and regulated species.
Most purity analysts have a good working knowledge of about 1,000 species rolling around in their heads. There is often a need to make tricky identification on species new to them or kinds difficult to separate.
Seed collections in Canada go as far back as the early 1900s when the Department of Agriculture would sell a set of glass vials containing 100 specimens for $2! In the 1950s, they changed over to seeds enclosed in bubble windows, which lasted until the 1980s. Then, seed collections started to be enclosed in coin envelopes for inspection under the microscope. Most seed analysts today have a glass microscope collection ready at their station to aid in their work.
For the past five years the Commercial Seed Analysts Association of Canada has co-operated with the Seed Science and Technology Section of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to deliver a program known as the Seed Swap. In this program, 20 verified specimens collected by seed technologists across the country are verified and given to the participants of the yearly CSAAC workshop.
These treasured collections are just one of the invaluable tools for ensuring accuracy when describing the quality of Canadian seed and protecting our industry.