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Agricultural News

Weed-Free Forage Offers New Opportunities

Tue, 13 May 2014 17:07:28 CDT

Weed-Free Forage Offers New Opportunities
Forage and mulch often contain non-native weeds that can cause infestations which adversely impact agriculture, forest, recreational, and other lands when these materials are transported. There is a growing demand for certified weed-free forage and mulch as a preventative program to reduce the spread of noxious weeds. Certified weed-free forage is required in many states and on federal lands managed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, national parks, military, fish and wildlife refuges and tribes. State and federal agencies require certified weed-free mulch for highway, right-of-way, restoration and reclamation projects.            

Weed-free forage is of special interest to those who use pack and saddle stock, such as horse owners, outfitters, ranchers with grazing permits, hunters, and contractors. Starting in June 2005, visitors to national forests and national grasslands in the Rocky Mountain region must comply with a weed-free forage order. The order covers all national forests and national grasslands in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. It requires that all hay, cubed hay, straw, mulch and other products be certified as weed-free by a sanctioned certification program.            

Oklahoma's certified weed-free forage and mulch program offers many advantages. It provides an opportunity for Oklahoma producers to market certified forage and mulch as value-added products. The program helps meet the demand for products that comply with contract requirements and provides forage and mulch buyers a marketable and transportable product.            

Certifying a crop as weed-free also reduces the introduction and spread of noxious weeds onto public and private lands. It increases producer awareness of their role in weed management and provides increased weed management and reduction of weed infestations.            

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has developed a certification process for forage and mulch products. Hay and grain fields can be inspected and once a field passes this inspection, bales from the field can be labeled as "certified weed-free" and will be issued a transit certificate. The certified status can be listed on the ODAFF Hay Directory for prospective buyers. Details about the agency's weed-free program are available at http://www.oda.state.ok.us/cps-weedfree.htm.



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