When legislation provides technical standards for the production, control, and certification of seeds and planting materials at growth stage, inspections are carried out at the appropriate vegetative stages to ensure planting material conformity.
For official field inspections to take place, operators must declare the fields that they have dedicated to seed growth to SOC.
Such official inspections seek to confirm that 1) the variety being produced is the one expected, 2) crop purity is sufficient, and 3) weeds and pests are absent or occur at negligible levels.
For some species, compliance with additional standards may be verified. For example, rules may dictate minimum distances from neighbouring pollen sources, the identity of previously planted crops, or the degree of flowering synchrony.
The system allows accredited technicians to inspect certain types of seed crops, including small-grain species, black wheat, maize, sorghum, forage and turf plants, protein plants, rapeseed, soybean, sunflower, linseed and flax, hemp, beet, chicory, and certain types of vegetables.
However, only SOC inspectors are allowed to verify compliance in the case of potatoes and certain strawberry varieties.
On this note, SOC inspectors carry out two types of inspections: 1) inspections to directly verify that seed production complies with established standards and 2) official supervision of inspections carried out by accredited technicians. They may also audit a technician’s qualifications in situ.