About Us

The Tasmanian Seed Certification Schemes

What we do

Certification officers are qualified accredited officers who inspect crops for disease, purity to type and viruses throughout the growing season, this involves undertaking two field inspections while the crop is in its growing period. Officers access the crops for disease levels, virus infections and purity to type. The first inspection is before row closure and the second is pre-senescence. Certification officers walk crops and monitor and record their findings to report back to industry and growers.

If a field or part of a field is deemed to be un-certifiable the officer will inform the grower and the appropriate action is taken to either reject that field or part there-of from the scheme.

When the tubers have been harvested it is the grower's responsibility to inform the certification officers that they need an inspection on their tubers. Tuber inspections must meet the standards set by the certification scheme; failure to meet these standards will mean that the crop cannot be sold as certified seed.

Certification officers are also Accredited Crop Inspectors (ACI) and can perform inspections on potatoes before exporting to other states or international destinations which have biosecurity standards.

What is Seed Potato Certification?flower 

The seed Certification is a form of quality control. It allows the seed grower to market their seed to a quality, endorsed by an independent authority. 

It allows the seed buyer to obtain information on what he is buying from an independent authority.

It can be used as a means of recording and controlling seed potato multiplication.

Why is certification required?

It is essential for the maintenance of a sustainable potato industry via the propagation of high yielding, high quality seed lines. It limits the build-up of diseases within seed lines and it also allows the movement of seed potatoes across state and national boundaries.

How does the seed certification schemes work?

Seed certification schemes are based on several general principles:

a)            Clean starting material – The initiating material for all seed certification systems is the nuclear material. This is produced under sterile conditions in a laboratory. Usually in the form of tissue culture. It is tested for diseases, viruses and varietal purity.

b)            This material can be rapidly multiplied via tissue culture, minituber production, or tip cutting – this is carried out under controlled or semi controlled conditions –usually in a glasshouse. Regular testing confirms that the disease free status of these lines is being maintained.

c)            This material then undergoes a limited number of field generations in order to increase volumes and reduce the cost. The lines are regularly inspected both in the field and after harvest in order to maintain disease levels within defined tolerances.

d)            Limited generation schemes allow tolerances for various diseases based on the number of field generations and the impact of these diseases on the commercial crop. The regular renewal of lines from disease free stocks leads to a flow through system that flushes diseased material out of the scheme.

Major Quarantine Diseases

  • Bacterial Wilt - caused by a soil borne organism called Ralstonia solanacearum is one of the most devastating diseases in potatoes and is favoured by temperatures of between 25o C and 35o C. In conditions of optimum temperatures infection is favoured by wet soils. Symptoms include wilting, stunting and yellowing of the plant, leaves will curl up and eventually turn brown and fall off.
  • Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) – the organism survives in soil in the form of a cyst which is the remains of a dead female nematode. Each cyst can contain up to 400 eggs and each egg contains a juvenile nematode. Eggs hatch when there are favourable conditions and move within the soil particles. They attach themselves to the roots of plants and puncture the plant cells to feed. The roots become sedentary and increasingly large breaking the outer root tissue. PCN is a soil born pest and is spread through transport of infected soil. Nematodes are small worm shaped organisms which are less than 1mm in length. The cysts are white yellow or golden in colour when they first form on the roots but when they mature they turn a brown colour. A viroid is mostly a plant pathogen of single stranded RNA without protein coats.

Tas potato industryTasmania's Potato Industry

Importing of potatoes into Tasmania is prohibited under quarantine laws. Tasmania has a relatively virus and disease free industry whereby there are no major pathogens, diseases or viruses that could potentially harm the export of potatoes to other states or countries. Tasmania's Certified Seed Scheme and the potato industry encourage growers of all kinds "commercial growers or home gardeners" to buy and plant certified seed knowing it has been both field inspected and tuber inspected and has met standards set out in the certification scheme. The potential for potatoes that enter the state without having quarantine testing could potentially harm the Tasmanian potato industry. The likelihood of an insect, virus or pathogen being present on a tuber that has not been screened or tested could lead to a devastating impact on the states potato industry. Diseases, pathogens, viruses and insects can be spread by environmental conditions, winds, soil movement, animals, machinery and a host of other means.

How do I know I am buying Certified Seed

When purchasing seed from a certified seed grower or a merchandiser the buyer should always ask to see the label stating that is certified. This should be a black or red label and have the following information on it.

  • Name of Grower
  • Variety – Generation
  • Region grown
  • Paddock Number
  • Rating
  • Month and Year of harvest

The label should be signed by an authorised certification officer.

cert example certificate 2

For more information you can contact a certification officer click here.