Deciphering CRP Seed Tags and Understanding the Importance of PLS

CRP seed tags are important. Not only are they required for you to receive your reimbursement from FSA, but they let you know what you’re actually planting on your land. 

The first time you look at a seed tag, however, you might not understand what it all means. In addition to the seed name, variety, and origin, you’ll find a list of percentages including purity, other crop, weed seed, germination, dormant seed, total germ, and PLS. 

Some of these such as other crop and weed seed are pretty straight forward. If there is any noxious weed found in the mix, a percentage will be listed along with the names of the noxious weeds. This is important because certain noxious weeds are illegal in specific states, meaning you cannot plant mixes containing even trace amounts of them. 

Arguably the most important percentages, however, have to do with purity, germination, and PLS. 

Purity and Growth Potential 

Purity, germination, and dormant seed are percentages that ultimately determine how much of a particular seed is contained within your mix and how likely it is to successfully grow. The “purity” percentage refers to the amount of the title seed that’s found in your mix. 

So, if your tag says Switchgrass, and the purity is 99%, that means the contents are pretty much all switchgrass seeds. 

Germination, also known as live germ, is the percentage of seed that will germinate under proper soil conditions.  

Dormant seed, while alive and capable of growing, is covered in a hard coat that is impermeable to water. In order to germinate, it needs to undergo either stratification or scarification.  

Together, live germ and dormant seed form the total germ percentage. 

Determining PLS 

PLS stands for pure live seed. This is the amount of the primary crop seed within your mix that is capable of growing. Sometimes, you will find a PLS percentage listed on the tag. This is determined by taking the purity rate and multiplying it by the total germination rate (live germ plus dormant germ) and then dividing that by 100. 

Let’s say the purity is 91%, the germination is 92%, and the dormant seed is 3%. The formula would be as follows: 

91 x (92 + 3) / 100

That means the PLS percentage would be 86.45%. This can then be used to determine the PLS content of your purchase. 

If you’re purchasing 50lbs of seed, and the PLS% of the mix is 85%, then there is 42.5lbs of pure live seed within your mix purchase. This is important to know as CRP is planted on a PLS basis. While seed mix with a lower PLS might be cheaper, you’ll ultimately need to purchase more of it, negating the price difference.  

Your best bet is to purchase seed with high purity and PLS. That way, you can purchase and plant less seed while maximizing your chances of a successful CRP establishment. 

When purchasing our own proprietary CRP seed mixes, you’ll find the PLS lbs. per acre conveniently listed so that you know exactly what you’re getting. Our seed has been reprocessed for the highest level of purity and tested for noxious weeds such as Palmer amaranth.  

Additionally, we offer seed mixes developed by the NRCS. 

All CRP seed purchased from ANS come with the proper seed tags, so you know exactly what you’re getting. We’ll also keep a record of your seed tags, so you don’t have to worry if you lose them before submitting costshare reporting. 

If you have any questions, or you’d like us to put together a CRP seed mix quote, don’t hesitate to call us at 888-224-2004 or email us at