Seed Potato Classification Scheme
Seed potatoes produced and marketed in England and Wales must be classified under the SPCS. This Scheme is designed to ensure that the seed potatoes meet the standards specified by The Seed Potatoes (England) Regulations 2006, which also implement the requirements of Council Directive 2002/56/EC on the marketing of seed potatoes. Seed potatoes imported into Great Britain must meet the criteria laid down in EC Directive 2002/56/EC. Under the Regulations 'marketing' is defined as "(a) selling, holding with a view to sale and offering for sale; and (b) any disposal, supply or transfer for the purpose of commercial exploitation of seed potatoes to third parties, whether or not for consideration." This includes for example, seed potatoes which are given away without charge. The SPCS aims to protect purchasers by addressing quality in respect of health, trueness to variety and freedom from mixtures. In Great Britain, classified seed potatoes are derived from nuclear stock which has been tested and found free from quarantine and certain other pathogens.
For a seed crop to be eligible for classification and therefore marketing, the parent stock must have been produced from classified seed of a variety included on the UK National List or the EC Common Catalogue. Changes at EU level and incorporated in the Seed Potatoes (England) Regulations 2006 allow the marketing of small quantities of seed for test and trials purposes of varieties entered for, but not yet having achieved National Listing. There are a number of conditions to be met before such material can be marketed – the principle one being that the owner of the variety must apply to the relevant certifying authority for approval to market such seed. Contact the PHSI for further information. Applications are made to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at the beginning of the growing season and are handled by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI). Fees are payable for inspection of the crop and are based on the area planted and the grade for which the crop is entered.
Seed potato crops must be entered for classification in either the Pre-basic, Basic or Certified categories. Pre-basic and Basic seed is mainly intended for the production of seed crops, while Certified seed is mainly intended for ware production. In England and Wales the main grades are :
The Regulations prescribe restrictions as to the
land on which seed potatoes may be produced so as to minimise the
risk of infection by certain diseases or pests. Certain agronomic
requirements must be satisfied by all crops and, in addition, there
are different health and purity standards for the various grades.
The PHSI inspects seed crops during the growing season and tubers
during or after sorting and grading to check that the standards
for disease and defects specified in the Regulations have been met.
The various requirements for each grade are detailed in an explanatory
Page last modified:
10 July 2007
Page published: 3 May 2003