Selection and Roguing in Organic Seed Production

Organic Agriculture February 25, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF

eOrganic author:

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.


This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.