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South Dakota Offers Weed-Free Forage Certification
South Dakota Ag Connection - 05/11/2018

Hay producers can add value to their product by having it certified noxious weed-free forage through the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA).

"This is a win-win situation. A farmer can get a better price for their forage and it helps prevent the spread of noxious weeds," said Ron Moehring, state weed supervisor and program specialist for the weed-free forage program.

The certification program is the first step to preventing the spread of new noxious weeds into forests and natural areas. Straw used in soil erosion reclamation projects or animal bedding must also be free of noxious weeds.

"I'm selling my hay at a higher price, $3 to $4 a bale more," said Travis Ismay of Vale. "I didn't have to treat my fields much differently than I had been doing. I just had to have the inspector come out and certify the field before I cut the hay."

Cost of certification is $250 for the first acre and $2 an acre for the rest of the field that is inspected. A request for certification needs to be made to the SDDA 10 days prior to expected harvest date. The crop will be certified using the NAISMA Weed Free Forage list and the South Dakota Noxious Weed list. A field can still be certified weed free if listed weeds are present in the field, however those weeds cannot seed before harvest takes place.

"Once the inspector arrives at the field, they must walk the perimeter of the field in question, then crisscross or zigzag through the field by coming in at one point (or side) and leaving at a different point, looking for any of the designated weeds. In addition, a buffer area on the perimeter must also be weed-free, as well as hay storage areas. A certificate of inspection is completed and sent to the producer. Once a field is certified, the producer has a designated time period to harvest the crop. If the crop isn't harvested within the time frame, the field must be re-certified to verify no seeds have formed. The producer will identify the inspected forage by a special tag available through SDDA," Moehring said.

For more information about South Dakota weed-free forage program visit https://bit.ly/2KUviF0 or contact Moehring at ron.moehring@state.sd.us or 605-773-3796.

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