As a consequence of contamination of soil with heavy metals, cadmium accumulation in grain is of great concern worldwide, but especially in southern China. It is important to evaluate the Cd accumulation potential of grain before or when examining and approving new cultivars. An evaluation method and criteria for verifying Cd accumulation potential in rice are proposed, and the Cd accumulation potential of 56 mid-season hybrids collected from the provincial cultivar trials in 2016 were investigated. Genotype, environment and their interactions strongly affected the variation in grain Cd accumulation. Two hybrids were identified as slightly Cd accumulating. Hybrids with slight Cd accumulation potential would be suitable for safe grain production on polluted land (total Cd under 2.0 mg·kg ) in Hunan Province (China) and should be considered for new cultivar evaluation and approval. This evaluation method and criterion could be applied for certifying Cd accumulation potential of rice cultivars.