Interpreting Grass Seed Labels

The ability to understand seed labels is critical when selecting good seed. The information on the seed label will help you determine if the seed is of high quality. Table 2 lists the preferred ranges of items found on the seed label.

The purity figure indicates the percent, by weight, of pure seed of each component in the mixture. Not all the pure seed is live seed.

The germination figure indicates the percent of pure seed that has been tested for germination and should grow when seeded.

The crop figure indicates the percent, by weight, of seeds in a package that are grown as a cash crop. Examples of crop may include orchardgrass, timothy, redtop, clover, and bentgrass which are considered weeds in turf.

The weed figure indicates the percent, by weight, of weed seeds in the package. A weed is any seed that has not been included in pure seed or crop.

Noxious Weeds
This defines the number per pound or ounce of weed seeds considered legally undesirable.

Inert indicates the percent, by weight, of material in the container that will not grow.

Date Tested
Check the date on the seed label. This date should be within the last eighteen months.


Preferred ranges foritems on the label of a good quality seed lot.
Item Range
Purity >98%
Germination >85%
Crop <0.5%
Weed <0.3%
Noxious Weed 0
Inert <2%
Date Tested last 18 months


Final Thoughts

Avoid the following when purchasing seed:

  • Buying out of bulk bins
  • Seed from the weekend newspaper circulars
  • Seed mixes that contain ‘Linn’ perennial ryegrass
  • Seed mixes that contain annual ryegrass

The best bet on getting good quality seed is to buy name brands from a reputable seed house or garden shop. Generally, the more expensive the seed, the better quality it is. Paying a few extra cents per pound for good quality seed is insignificant when compared to the added expense of trying to maintain an attractive lawn that was from poor quality seed.