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SEED INSPECTION.

CHAS. D. WOODS, Director.

BESSIE G. TOWER, Analyst.

In order that the farmer might be able to find out, if he so desired, what quality of seed he was buying, a law was passed in Maine in the winter of 1897, regulating the sale of agricultural seeds, and providing for the testing of samples of seeds, either by the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station, or in accordance with directions prescribed by the Director of the Station.

This law was satisfactory as far as it went, and resulted in an improvement in the character of the seed sold in the State. It did not provide for an inspection and as time has passed the moral effect of the law has to some extent and with some dealers grown less. To remedy this, the Legislature of 1905 passed an additional section to the law, calling for an inspection somewhat similar in requirements to that of the laws regulating the sale of commercial fertilizers, foods and feeding stuffs. The chief requirements of the law and the full text of the law follow:

CHIEF REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW. Kind of Seeds Coming Under the Law. The law applies to every lot of seeds, containing one pound or more, of cereals, grasses, forage plants, vegetable and garden plants, but does not apply to sweet corn, trees, shrubs and ornamental plants.

The Guarantee. Every lot sold, offered or exposed for sale must be accompanied by a written or printed guarantee of the percentage of purity.

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CHAPTER 39, REVISED STATUTES.

Regulation of Sale of Agricultural Seeds. Sec. 27. Every lot of seeds of agricultural plants, whether in bulk or in package, containing one pound or more, and including the seeds of cereals, except sweet corn, grasses, forage plants, vegetables and garden plants but not including those of trees, shrubs and ornamental plants, which is sold, offered or exposed for sale for seed by any person in the state shall be accompanied by a written or printed guaranty of its percentage of purity and freedom from foreign matter; provided, that mixtures may be sold as such when the percentages of the various constituents are stated.

SEC. 28. Dealers may base their guarantees upon tests conducted by themselves, their agents or by the director of the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station; provided, that such tests shall be made under such conditions as the said director may prescribe.

Sec. 29. The results of all tests of seeds made by said director shall be published by him in the bulletins or reports of the experiment station, together with the names of the persons from whom the samples of seeds were obtained. The said director shall also publish equitable standards of purity, together with such other information concerning agricultural seeds as may be of public benefit.

*Sec. 30. Whoever sells, offers or exposes for sale or for distribution, in the state, any agricultural seeds without complying with the requirements of sections twenty-seven and twenty-eight, or whoever, with intention to deceive, wrongly marks or labels any package or bag containing garden or vegetable seeds or any other agricultural seeds, not including those of trees, shrubs and ornamental plants, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars for the first offense and not exceeding two hundred dollars for each subsequent offense.

Sec. 31. The provisions of the four preceding sections shall not apply to any person growing or selling cereals and other seeds for food.

*Sec. 33. Whenever the said director becomes cognizant of any violation of the preceding sections, he shall report such violation to the commissioner of agriculture, and said commissioner shall prosecute the party or parties thus reported.

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The matter not relevant to seeds is omitted.

CHAPTER 66 OF THE LAWS OF 1905.

2

An Act to Further Regulate the Analysis of Food and

Agricultural Seeds. SEC. I. The director of the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station shall analyze, or cause to be analyzed, samples of agricultural seeds sold or offered for sale under the provisions of chapter thirty-nine of the revised statutes. He shall take in person or by deputy, a sample, not exceeding four ounces in weight, for said analysis, from any lot or package of agricultural seeds which may be in the possession of any grower, importer, agent or dealer in the state.

SEC. 2. There shall be appropriated annually from the state treasury the sum of one thousand dollars in favor of the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station, and the same may be expended in the analysis of food and agricultural seeds. So much of said appropriation shall be paid by the treasurer of state to the treasurer of said Experiment Station as the director of said station may show by his bills has been expended in performing the duties required by the acts regulating the sale and analysis of food and the sale of agricultural seeds. Such payment shall be made quarterly upon the order of the governor and council, who shall draw a warrant for that purpose. Sec. 3. This act shall take effect when approved.

[Approved March 15, 1905.]

TESTING SEEDS AT HOME. It is important to the user of seeds not only to know their percentage of purity and what kind of weeds they carry, but to also know something of their vitality. In the case of seeds there are at least three ways whereby the user may be injured. A seed which carries foreign matter of any kind, in any considerable amount, is correspondingly lowered in value. But there is another reason which is more important than the money consideration, and that is that the weed seeds which the seeds contain may be pernicious. For example,—clover seed carries frequently plantain seed. If this plantain seed is the door-yard variety which is present practically all over Maine, there would be comparatively little harm from using clover seed which contained it. On the other hand—lance leaved plantain or rib grass is not abundant in Maine. It is an undesirable plant and using seed carrying it might introduce a weed into land which is at present free from it. It is important that the farmer should know the vitality as well as the purity of the seed that he is to use. No matter how pure a seed may be, if half of it will not sprout it has no more value than if the seed were half chaff.

While it is not easy to make an exact purity test, it is not difficult for a farmer to so acquaint himself with the seeds that he is ordinarily using that by the help of an ordinary reading or magnifying glass he will be able to tell whether the seed in question contains any considerable amount of impurities. If the seed is spread out upon a white plate, a little practice will enable a farmer to see whether a given seed is reasonably pure or not, and he will soon learn to detect the more common foreign seeds.

It is much easier for the farmer to test the vitality of seed than to make a purity examination. The following simple instructions for performing germination tests at home without any special apparatus will enable the farmer to learn for himself whether the seed that he is using has good vitality or not. Germination tests may be made in two ways,—the so-called blotting paper method, and the sand method. In making the germination test with blotting paper, blue blotting paper of common weight, cut into strips about 6 x 19 inches, should be used. This is laid folded twice so as to get a piece of three thicknesses and about six inches square, on an ordinary dinner plate or platter. The seeds if small are placed on the top of the paper and if large between the folds. The paper is kept moist (not soaked) and at a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees F.

If only a vitality test is desired the blotting paper method is preferable, but if it is desired to know how many seeds may be expected to grow, the sand method is in some ways preferable. In this method a thin layer of fine sand is sprinkled on the bottom of a flat dish and the seeds to be tested placed on it under a thin covering of sand. This must be kept moist and well shaded and at a somewhat higher temperature than in the first case.

At the end of every second day in the case of some seeds, and the third day in the case of those germinating more slowly, the sprouted seeds should be removed from the blotters or the sand and counted, the per cent being readily found by referring back to the number of seeds which were taken for the test. If 100 seeds are used, the number that sprout give the vitality per cent.

DESCRIPTION OF TABLES. In the present bulletin there are reported the results of purity tests made by the Experiment Station since 1902. Prior to the legislation of 1905, there were no funds for such inspection and only such samples were examined as were submitted by correspondents.

The table on page 6 contains a list of the weeds obtained from seeds here reported upon. They are arranged alphabetically in accordance with the English name. As the common name differs in different parts of the country, the scientific name is given for the purpose of identification.

The table on page 7 summarizes the results of examination of samples of seeds collected by the Station in the spring of 1905; while the table on page 8 summarizes the results of the examination of seeds sent in to the Station by correspondents in the years 1902 to 1905.

In the tables on pages 9 to 16 there are given in detail the results of the analyses of the samples collected by the Station in the spring of 1905.

The tables on pages 16 to 24 contain the analyses of samples sent to the Station by correspondents. In many instances these samples were sent by the dealers themselves and are goods that were offered to them, and it does not necessarily mean that they offered for sale in Maine seeds of this quality.

In some instances it is certain that when the examination showed the seeds to be of low purity, they were not brought into the State.

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