National listing of varieties is a prerequisite for commercially trading agricultural plant and vegetable seeds.
The legal basis of national listing is the Seed Act (SaatG). It serves to protect consumers and ensure that agricultural and horticultural industries are provided with high-quality seed and plant material derived from healthy, high-quality and productive varieties. A pre-requisite for a variety to be admitted to the national list includes distinctiveness from other varieties, uniformity and stability, which are tested in open field or greenhouse testing procedures (DUS testing) and a suitable variety denomination. For agricultural plant varieties value for cultivation and use is also required. A variety is considered to have value for cultivation and use if its qualities taken as a whole offer a clear improvement for cultivation, for use of the harvest or use of products derived from the harvest compared to comparable listed varieties. The value features of a variety are determined by properties shown in cultivation testing and laboratory testing relating to cultivation, resistance, yield, quality and use (VCU testing).
National listing is granted for 10 years (20 for vines and fruit). After the expiration of this period, national listing can be extended on request.
VCU testing requires at least a two-year test period for most species, with three years of testing for cereals, winter oilseed rape and forage crops. VCU testing is carried out at 10 to 20 locations of the Federal Plant Variety Office , the federal states, plant breeders and other institutions. VCU testing is generally carried out without the use of fungicides and growth regulators in order to assess the properties of the varieties related to their genetic composition. Varieties of some species are also tested under conditions of organic farming.
Of approximately 900 agricultural varieties applied for national listing each year, around 20% are registered and admitted to the National List by the variety committees at the Federal Plant Variety Office.
For vegetables, around 30 varieties are applied for national listing each year. Admission is also possible for ornamental varieties, but is not required for marketing.
There is a simplified listing process for conservation varieties of agricultural and vegetable species, as well as for vegetable varieties that are not of commercial value (amateur varieties).
National listing is obligatory for fruit varieties since 2017. Plant material can be sold throughout the EU if the variety, in addition to plant health requirements, is protected or listed in one member state or the variety was already in circulation prior to 30/09/2012. There must be at least an officially recognised variety description. Varieties that may only be marketed in Germany include so-called amateur varieties and varieties for the preservation of genetic diversity.
Appeals against decisions made by the variety committees are assessed by the relevant Federal Plant Variety Office appeal committees.
The Forest Reproductive Material Act (FoVG) applies to forest plant species. The federal states have jurisdiction over this.