These are the key CNG requirements on seeds and seedlings. Find the full Produce Certification Standards here.
The three rules below cover regular seeds, plus these crops when they are grown as annuals: seed potatoes, sweet potato slips, day-neutral strawberry slips, ginger, turmeric, and flower bulbs.
- No GMOs. Never ever.
- No chemically-treated seeds. The only exception here is if the chemical treatment is required by Federal or State phytosanitary regulations, which is very, very rare.
- CNG members must use seeds that are Certified Naturally Grown or certified organic whenever they are commercially available. So if you check with at least 3 major seed sources and still can’t find the variety you need, you can use conventionally grown seed (as long as it’s not GMO or chemically-treated, of course). You may also use seeds from a non-certified producer who adheres to CNG standards. However, seeds used for edible sprouts always must be certified organic or Certified Naturally Grown.
We totally encourage farmers to save their own seed! If you’re new to CNG and you’re hoping to use seed you’ve saved in previous seasons, we’ll just want to verify that you’ve been growing your seed without prohibited inputs.
Make sure to keep all your records – receipts, seed packet labels, and the seed sources you consulted – to show your inspector during their visit. Check out our list of seed sources below!
When you’re purchasing transplants, it can be hard to tell how they were grown. Look for a CNG or certified organic label or talk directly to the grower. Even when you’re growing your own, it’s important to confirm that your bagged potting mix is free from synthetic fertilizers and wetting agents. Make sure to check the label carefully!
Transplants and seedlings used in CNG operations must be:
- Grown from seeds that meet the CNG seed standards – no GE seeds, no chemically treated seeds, and organically grown whenever available (see above).
- Grown without synthetic fertilizers, wetting agents, or pesticides.
There are a few exceptions we should mention:
- Perennials that were started conventionally can be considered CNG after 12 months under CNG management.
- If Federal or State phytosanitary regulations require the use of prohibited substances, those seedlings would be allowed.
- A temporary variance may be granted (usually due to extreme natural disaster) to use conventionally grown seedlings.
In short, all annual transplants MUST be produced according to CNG standards. Folks seem to get extra confused about onions. Onion plants are not an exception, all onion transplants must be grown according to CNG/organic standards. Check out our Planting Stock page for more details.
These companies offer CNG or Certified Organic seeds. Please note some of these sources also offer non-organically grown seed varieties, so be sure to double check before placing your order. (Don’t see your favorite seed supplier on the list? Let us know)!
For more planting stock sources, check out our blog on the subject here.