South Carolina's Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers explains that there's many facets to the SCDA that don't necessarily revolve around the agricultural producer. SCDA also has five labs under it's umbrella, one of which is the seed lab.
Weathers explains that while the seed lab does work for farmers; testing seed for germination rate, the lab also tests all types of seed for use by the general public, including garden seed, grass seed and the like. The SCDA Seed Lab is located at the new State Farmers' Market in West Columbia.
“We do have the five labs, including the seed lab. It’s probably the one that farmers can relate to most. We also serve the industry, doing almost 10,000 samples a year. Clemson is a seed certification processor, but we are the lab that performs the analysis for them. It’s a very involved operation out at the new state farmers market.
At the seed lab, there are the normal grains that farmers will bring to test for germination. The higher the germ the better, that benchmark is 75%. If its below that you have to mark it and below 50% you can’t sell it. It’s a quality control check. It’s also very popular for us to work on grass seeds, those are checked every 9-15 months, and the same for vegetable and flower seeds.
For the grass seed, we will also go out with our consumer services who will pull samples from the shelves to see if the seed is pure.
In addition to the seed lab, we check everything from gasoline to pesticides. The one lab that is not out at the state farmers market is called the Metrology Lab, it tests that a pound is a pound. Meaning, that when weights are used for trade by anyone in SC, we are the lab who makes sure those instruments are accurate.”