Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance
This is an Organic Seed Resource Guide article.
“Selection” and “roguing” are common practices in seed production that maintain or improve crop genetic integrity. Technically speaking, “roguing” refers to routine removal of plants that exhibit off-type characteristics or undesirable traits. “Maintenance” and “selection” refer to genetic improvement of the crop.The amount of selection required depends upon the quality of the seed stock planted.
Photo credit: Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance
Roguing can be conducted for any physical attribute such as off-type color, shape or stature. It can also include plant quality traits such as presence of disease, insect damage, or low vigor. Selecting for these traits can improve the overall appearance and performance of varieties.
Timing of roguing can be critical, as key traits might be visible only at specific times, for example at bolting or heading. Roguing must be completed before flowering to prevent cross-pollination of the seed crop with undesired plants. Discuss and negotiate the following with your seed buyer when writing your contract:
- Responsibility for roguing (grower or company);
- Roguing criteria; and
- Compensation for roguing if the grower is responsible, or fee if the company is responsible.