Until now, the certification of fruit planting material has been regulated nationally in the EU. As of 1 January 2017, certification within the EU will take place according to uniform standards. In Austria, the corresponding three directives have been transposed into the Plant Material Act 1997 as amended:
- Directive 2014/98/EU (provisions for official testing incl. certification)
- Directive 2014/97/EU (Registration of varieties)
- Directive 2014/96/EU (labelling, sealing and packaging)
The Plant Material Act 1997 as amended provides for two categories of fruit plant material: CAC (Conformitas Agraria Communitatis) and certified plant material of higher quality. Standard material corresponds to the category "CAC" and must be visually free from harmful organisms.
The purpose of certification of fruit planting material is to place on the market particularly high-quality plant material with regard to plant health, in particular freedom from viruses, varietal identity and homogeneity. The plant material must come from a three-stage certification system (pre-basic, basic and certified material). The certification is a voluntary addition to the legally prescribed plant passport and is open to all interested tree nurseries.
The certification of fruit plants in Austria must be applied for by the supplier (company) at the Federal Office for Food Safety.
In the case of certified fruit seed potatoes, production must be traceable. There must be evidence of the origin, propagation stage, phytosanitary tests for harmful organisms carried out and soil tests carried out in the neighbourhood and information on the variety (proof of entry in a list of varieties, variety description).
The planting or withdrawing of the fruit seed is carried out by means of a notification. In the event of a positive decision, the supplier is authorised to label the plant material with a special quality label.
The amount of the fees for the certification of fruit planting material can be found in the planting material fee tariff.
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After examination of the application data, field inspection of the reproductive crops is the second step in the certification of potato seed potatoes. This is carried out by specially trained and qualified persons.
At least one official field inspection shall be required. Among other things, the characteristics varietal identity, varietal purity, health status (including quarantine pests) and cultural status are assessed.
Field inspection shall take place at a time when a good assessment of the relevant characteristics is possible.
The concrete requirements for the field crop of the propagation area are regulated in Section 3 of the Seed Act, as well as in the relevant methods for seed and varieties in accordance with § 5 of the Seed Act for the technical implementation of seed law.
The following basic requirements apply to certified potato seed potatoes:
- Varietal purity of seed potatoes of authorised varieties
- High health status of the seed potatoes
- High utility value for cultivation
- absence of quarantine pathogens
To ensure this, after a positive result of the field inspection, official representative sampling of the lots to be assessed (either directly on the field immediately before harvest or in the warehouse) shall be carried out for the quality check.
The concrete requirements are regulated in the relevant methods for seeds and varieties in accordance with § 5 of the Seed Act for the technical implementation of seed law.
The final stage of the procedure (after a positive field inspection and quality inspection) is the issuing of the certificate of recognition. A control or recognition number is assigned to the specific propagation project. This forms the basis for marking or labelling the goods before they are placed on the market.
The detailed regulation of the labelling provisions can be found again in the relevant methods for seeds and varieties in accordance with § 5 of the Seed Law.
In cases where potato seed potatoes of insufficient quality are available and no corresponding seed potatoes with corresponding specifications (e.g. certain variety characteristics) can be made available in the common market, it is possible to apply for approval of auxiliary seed potatoes. The quantity and the reduced conditions for authorisation must be indicated and the period of placing on the market is limited.
Planting stock of strains not yet entered in the list of varieties may be placed on the market after approval as experimental planting stock if the variety description is available but the value test has not yet been completed and the quality of the planting stock meets the standards. For each variety applied for, a maximum of 82,500 kg of potato seed potatoes can currently be placed on the market.