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Organic Strawberry Planting Stock Field Trials and the Commercial Availability Requirement

by Guest Blogger |

The National Organic Program (NOP) section 205.204 requires that producers search for organic strawberry planting stock (i.e., crowns, plugs, etc.) prior to using non‐organic. CCOF is aware that organic strawberry planting stock is becoming more widely available commercially, and we are happy to share with our members an upcoming opportunity to learn about field trial results for organic strawberry planting stock. Join us at the Organic Strawberry Fields Forever Project’s industry update on November 25, 2019 in Watsonville, California, to hear firsthand about the results of the field trials.

In order to ensure compliance with NOP 205.204, growers must make adequate ongoing efforts to source organic strawberry planting stock suitable for their operation in form, quality, or quantity. CCOF will verify that growers contact known suppliers and will look for efforts to increase use of organic strawberry planting stock over time. We maintain a current list of organic strawberry planting stock suppliers known to CCOF for your referenceGrowers should be prepared to discuss this topic at future inspections.

Adequate ongoing efforts should:

  • Include organic suppliers. Searches must include sources known to supply organic strawberry planting stock, such as those on our known supplier list.
  • Occur well in advance. Growers must contact known suppliers with enough advance notice to allow for production of adequate supply. In addition, Mexico growers importing planting stock should plan for any additional time needed to comply with phytosanitary requirements.
  • Include nonorganic suppliers. Since organic suppliers are limited at this time, in addition to contacting suppliers known to sell organic, growers should also request organic from other suppliers that offer planting stock with the desired characteristics (i.e., variety, disease resistance, quantity).
  • Include trialing. Producers who cannot find the form/quality/quantity of organic planting stock needed to meet all their production needs should trial available organic planting stock to evaluate its potential productivity on their operation in addition to demonstrating their effort and commitment to meet the commercial availability requirement.
  • Take into account form, quality, and quantity. Cost alone is not a sufficient reason to avoid utilizing organic strawberry planting stock. Growers must use organic planting stock if it is available in the form, quality, or quantity that meets your operation’s needs.
  • Occur annually. Growers must re‐evaluate commercial availability annually.
  • Be documented. Use our sample form, or record your efforts in another format.
  • Be made even if you do not select/buy your planting stock. If a buyer or other third party determines your planting stock, they must provide you with documentation annually showing that they have met the requirements above.

The USDA NOP regulations are a process‐based standard, and CCOF is committed to continual improvement, including the use of commercially available organic strawberry planting stock as intended in the letter and spirit of the organic regulations. To support growers’ efforts to source organic seed and planting stock, CCOF permits growers to deduct the cost of organic seed and planting stock from their organic production value (OPV) to reduce certification fees. 

We are appreciative of the leadership and long-term efforts of many growers, individuals, businesses, researchers, and others to move the industry forward in this important area.