Using non-organic plant starts
When certified organic planting stock is not commercially available, you may be able to use non-organic, untreated (e.g., no application of a prohibited substance such as a fungicide) planting stock to produce an organic crop. Substances used by a non-organic planting stock supplier before the harvest, sale and use in organic production are not considered “treatment.”
What’s the definition of a plant start in certified organic farming?
A plant start is defined as “any plant or plant tissue other than annual seedlings, but including rhizomes, shoots, leaf or stem cuttings, roots, or tubers, used in plant production or propagation.” Annual seedlings are separate from planting stock and must be certified organic.
What do I need to do to be eligible to use non-organic plant starts?
You must document your unsuccessful commercial availability search from at least three trusted and reasonable sources for review and OTCO approval prior to using non-organic plant starts.
Are there any planting stocks that must always be certified organic?
No, planting stock does not have the same requirements as annual seedlings.
How long must perennial planting stock be organically managed before sale as organic?
For organic crop production
If you are cleared by OTCO to use a non-organic variety following a commercial availability search you can harvest the crop for organic sale that same season. Perennial planting stock includes bramble canes (e.g., blackberries, raspberries, etc.), asparagus crowns, fruit trees, and strawberry plugs that will be left in the field for longer than a year.
For plant stock production
If you are cleared by OTCO to use a non-organic variety following a commercial availability search it must be organically managed for at least 12 months before it is eligible for sale as organic planting stock.
Is any planting stock always prohibited from use, even when organic versions are not available?
Genetically engineered planting stock is never allowed for use.