Manager's Corner

Manager's Corner: July 2020

I will cover three topics in this Manager Corner:  COVID-19 & seed testing, testing cover crop seed and industrial hemp.

It seems like ages since COVID-19 started stirring things up just before Spring Break.  Shortly after Spring Break many employees of Iowa State began working from home and departments that remained open operated behind locked doors.  Although our doors are locked for now, we never stopped testing seeds.  We are following ISU policy as to social distancing and when to wear a mask.  Samples can be dropped off in the drop box on the east loading dock on the north side of Seed Science or shipped as usual.

The number of cover crop seed samples we test increases every year.  We will soon create a section on the Seed Lab web page with many details on cover crop testing (currently information is in more than one place) but I would like to hit a few main points here.  Farmers not participating in the NRCS cover crop program and wanting to check the quality of seeds can request only a warm (standard) germination test.  NRCS requires a purity test and a germination test for their program.  If a farmer plans on selling then a noxious weed exam is required along with the purity and germination tests.  We need to know how freshly harvested the seed lot is as it make a difference in whether we work to break possible dormancy in the seeds.  Basically, we need a little over a pound of cereal (rye, oats) seeds to conduct purity, noxious and germination tests.  If just purity and germination testing is needed then the amount is less than half that. What you can expect:

  • A report of analysis (mailed or e-mailed) that also has the cost of testing. 
  • A billing statement from us (Do not pay).
  • An invoice from Iowa State (Submit payment with this invoice).

If you have any questions about testing cover crop seeds please contact Seed Lab Customer Care at 515-294-6828/ or me at

We received permission to test industrial hemp seed late last winter.  On hemp seed we offer (mechanical) purity, noxious weed exam, germination, moisture and health testing.  Genetic purity testing, whether seed is feminized, etc. isn’t available at the ISU Seed Lab.  As industrial hemp seed is very valuable we are happy to return seeds that weren’t needed for testing minus a small portion in case there is a need for further testing.  There is a charge to return the seeds to pay for shipping or you can provide a UPS or other delivery service account.  Testing hemp seed isn’t new to the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) or the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST) as it has been in the AOSA rules for testing seeds since the early 1900’s.  Testing a variety of seeds isn’t new to the ISU Seed Lab as we test over 300 types of seeds ranging from agronomic crops to flowers to vegetables to tree seeds.

Best wishes that you and yours stay healthy through the pandemic and that it is over ASAP!   

Whom do I contact at the ISU Seed Lab?

The cheery voice you hear when calling 515-294-6821 is likely to be Cherie Hill, but it could be Connie or Morgan.  To contact ISU Seed Lab Customer Care by e-mail:

Lab Manager Mike Stahr: (best way to contact me) or 515-294-6826

ISU Seed Lab website:

ISU Seed Science  Center website: