The Arizona Crop Improvement Association, Inc., (ACIA) was organized in 1933 at Yuma by representatives of several county pure seed associations, Chilean alfalfa seed producers, the Farm Bureau and the University Of Arizona College Of Agriculture. The first bylaws were adopted in 1939 and ACIA became a non-profit corporation in 1942.
ACIA operations were supervised by the Arizona Agricultural Extension Service until 1949 when the management of the Arizona certification program was turned over to a board of directors. The board now consists of 22 members including growers from seed producing counties and representatives of the seed industry, the University of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA). ADA has designated ACIA as an official seed certifying agency.
ACIA’s office is located on the University of Arizona Campus Agricultural Center in Tucson. The building which houses the office was completed in 1982 with substantial financial contribution from ACIA. The facility contains a seed research and teaching laboratory that is available to plant science faculty and graduate students.
ACIA’s certification and service activities are conducted by a full-time staff of three employees who are employed through the University of Arizona via memorandum of agreement. The executive vice president manages the association and assists with field and office operations. A certification specialist focuses on certification program compliance, field inspections, assists with tag printing and handles the foundation seed program for Arizona’s public varieties. An office manager maintains certification records, keeps the books and assists with tag printing. Operating expenses are financed totally by income from memberships, certification and service activities and foundation seed sales.
Cotton is the primary crop inspected for certification in Arizona with about 80% of the annual acreage. Sudan grass, cereal grains and bermudagrass comprise most of the remaining acreage. Other crops inspected usually include alfalfa, hybrid grain sorghum, canola, safflower and turf grass sod. The main production is in the developed desert areas within 50 miles of Phoenix and in the valleys of the Gila and Colorado Rivers in southwestern Arizona. All seed production is irrigated. Approximately 60,000 – 70,000 acres are inspected annually. Weight of seed certified ranges from 45 – 65 million pounds annually.
Arizona certified seed meets both genetic and mechanical standards. Analysis for laboratory factors may be conducted by independent testing laboratories which employ qualified seed analysts.
ACIA inspectors may perform certain phytosanitary inspections under contract with the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
Upon request, ACIA will also design and conduct service inspections and programs involving Quality Assurance and Identity Preservation as well as other customer-oriented programs.
ACIA also conducts a program to certify forage and mulch for freedom from noxious weeds. Noncertification activities include hosting the central office functions of trade groups in the state.