Shipping Point Inspections

Shipping point inspections in Nebraska are voluntary, fee-for service inspections that have been administered by PCAN since 1952. The objective of this program is to facilitate trade by providing buyers and sellers of seed potatoes impartial and accurate information regarding quality and condition of seed potato shipments. This information is necessary to satisfy the requirements of state and federal marketing orders, or to verify compliance with specifications in a contract. These inspections are usually performed at the same time seed is being graded (Figure 1), but only after passing both field and storage inspections.

Figure 1. PCAN personnel are authorized to conduct shipping point inspections of seed potatoes in Nebraska and Wyoming.

Scoring to determine grade of these shipments is based on the United States Standards for Grades of Potatoes. The following grades are used by PCAN:

Blue Tag Grade

This grade is considered the same as the U.S. #1 Seed Potato Grade. These consist of unwashed potatoes identified as certified seed by the state of origin by blue tags fixed to the containers or official state or federal-state certificates accompanying bulk loads, which identify the crop year, grower, variety and generation, as well as the state certification agency.

Yellow Tag Grade

These are also unwashed potatoes that have not met Blue Tag tolerances for internal defects and certain diseases yet remain certified according to the Rules and Regulations of PCAN. The tagging procedure for the Yellow Grade is the same as the Blue Grade.

Green Tag Grade

This grade is intended as a buyer/seller agreement with no size or grade restrictions. Visual inspection will be performed for Bacterial Ring Rot only. The seed should not be washed and should be tagged the same way as Blue and Yellow Grade shipments.

The tolerances for various external and internal defects commonly seen at shipping point

Blue Tag Yellow Tag
Hollow Heart 10%1 15%
Oversize 10% 10%
Undersize 5% 5%
Fusarium Dry Rot 2% 2%
Soft Rot 0.5% 1%
Late Blight 1% 2%
Variety Mix 0.25% 0.25%
External Defects 6% 6%
Internal Defects 5% 6%
Sprouts 20% with a single sprout greater than 1 inch 40% with a single sprout greater than 1 inch2
Surface Scab When affecting 5% of the surface
Russet and Pitted Scab When affecting more than 1/3 surface area, or removal of more than 5% tuber weight When removal scabs cause more than 10% tuber weight

1 Percentages are based on 100-, 200-, or 300-pound samples collected by inspectors at shipping point.

2 After April 1st sprouts are not scorable against Yellow Tag Grade shipments.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • How much do shipping point inspections cost?
    There are two separate fees leveled for shipping point inspections, a bulk fee and an inspection fee. Bulk fees cost 5 cents per cwt per lot, while inspection fees cost 10 cents per cwt per lot.
  • Are seed potatoes eligible for certification if they are cut prior to grading and meet all disease tolerances?
    Potatoes that are cut prior to grading and meet all disease tolerances are eligible for Green Tag only.
  • Are sprouts always considered a grade factor?
    The Blue Tag tolerance for sprouts is 20%, while the Yellow Tag tolerance for sprouts is 40%. After April 1st, however, there is no limit for sprouts on loads being shipped at the Yellow Tag Grade.  Blue Tag tolerance is always 20%, no matter the date.
  • What is the size of the samples collected by PCAN inspectors during shipping point inspections?
    A minimum of five individual samples, consisting of at least 20 pounds each, are collected by PCAN inspectors during shipping point inspections, though it is standard practice for PCAN inspectors to collect eight 20-pound samples.