Weed-free Forage Market Growing
Hay and straw producers can add value to their products by achieving weed-free forage certification through the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA).
Initially the program targeted forage used on the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, but the market for weed-free forage continues to grow with more federal and state agencies requiring its use. Straw used in soil erosion reclamation projects or animal bedding must also be noxious weed-free.
Producers don’t have to treat clean fields any differently than before. They do have to have an inspector come out and certify the field as regionally weed-free before the hay or straw is cut.
“When the inspector arrives at the field, he or she inspects the crop at the field perimeter, a minimum of two entry points and the storage area,” said Ron Moehring, state weed and pest supervisor. “Once approved as regionally weed-free, a certificate of inspection is completed and sent to the producer. The producer identifies the inspected forage by using a special tag from SDDA.”
Moehring says, “Cost of certification includes $250 for the first acre and two dollars an acre after that, plus $.05 per tag for the bales. A request for certification needs to be made to SDDA two weeks prior to expected harvest date. The crop will be certified using the North American Certified Weed Free regional standards.” (Download Moehring2 here)
Certification is a win-win situation as producers may get a better price for their forage while also preventing the spread of invasive weeds.
For more information about South Dakota’s weed-free forage program visit http://sdda.sd.gov/ag-services/weed-and-pest-control/weed-free-forage/ or contact Ron Moehring at 605 773-3796.