The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will require anyone selling seed in Louisiana with coating material such as moisture retainers and other substances in 2012 to list the amount of coating and related information on the front of the package plainly visible to the buyer.

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the measure was necessary to inform the consumer how much of the package contents are actual seed and how much are considered “inert material.” Inert material is defined as all matter within the seed package that is not actually seed.

Coated seeds are defined as seeds covered with any substance that changes the size, shape or weight of the original seed.

Strain said many seed packagers coat their seed, particularly grass seed, with various materials that claim to aid in germination once the seed is planted. Some grass seed packages currently sold contain more than 90 percent of coating material.

“The measure protects the consumer,” Strain said. “We want the seed buyer to know exactly how much seed is in the package.”

Seed Programs Director Kevin Wofford said consumers purchasing coated seed in three pound packs or more may be unaware the package contains a high amount of inert material.

The new regulation states that the maximum amount of coating material must be listed on the front of the package and include a statement referring the purchaser to the product label, which contains detailed information on the germination and purity quality of the seed. The label is usually found on the back or side of the bag, and mainly goes unnoticed by the buyer, Wofford said.

Strain said the new regulations do not affect the current labeling requirements for treated seed. “Treated seed” refers to a process of covering or “treating” seed with insecticides, fungicides or other beneficial germination enhancements. The treated seed process does not change the size, shape or weight of the seed.

“Louisiana is the first state to require this type of additional labeling for coated seed,” Strain said. “Other states are looking at the ruling and may decide to change their labeling requirements based on our action. This measure could have a national impact on the way coated seed is labeled.”

The new requirements will become effective Jan. 1, 2012.