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Planting Stock Guidance from NOP

by Jon Knapp |

On February 28, 2013, the National Organic Program (NOP) issued Guidance Document NOP 5029, “Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop Production.” This final guidance describes the NOP’s direction to the industry and certifiers regarding how these materials may be sourced and treated, and specifying which records are necessary in order to meet the USDA National Organic Standards. In general, few substantial changes affect CCOF annual crop producers.
However, the guidance clarifies what may be harvested and sold as organic with regards to planting stock and perennial crops. Twelve months of organic management for planting stock (both annual and perennial) is only required before the planting stock itself can be sold or represented as organic. However, the crops from that planting stock can be harvested and sold as organic at any time. Annual seedlings/transplants must be organic but nonorganic planting stock such as strawberry crowns, raspberry canes, or bud wood in grape production may be used to produce organic crops within twelve months of planting if no organic version is available.
To use bud wood as an example, an organic crop can be harvested from nonorganic planting stock, including both the grafted limb and the rest of the tree or vine, but the grafted plant itself could not be sold as organic until it has been managed organically for 12 months. Please note, like seed, nonorganic planting stock used to produce organic crops still needs to meet commercial availability requirements of 205.204(a)(1), which require attempts to source organic versions prior to use of nonorganic stock. At least three attempts to find organic versions in the necessary form, quality, and quantity from appropriate source should be made. Where contractual obligations exist to use specific varieties, operations must demonstrate good faith efforts to comply with commercial availability requirements in a manner that is applicable to their business and system.