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Certifying Hay as 'Weed Free' a Marketing Option
By: Tyler Williams, UNL Extension - 05/17/2017

Many acreage and farmland owners produce prairie or grass hay and often sell to livestock, dairy or horse owners. Selling hay can be a challenge, but certifying it as "weed free" may help market the hay to national parks, road departments or many other uses. Selling hay for use in parks or on roadsides, though, can be a challenge, especially if your hay needs to cross state lines.

This is because many state and federal agencies will refuse to buy your hay unless they can guarantee it does not contain any noxious weeds. To prevent the spread of noxious weeds via hay, the North American Weed Free Forage Program was established.

The Lancaster County Weed Control Authority will, upon request, inspect any forage prior to harvest as to the presence or absence of the designated noxious weeds of the participating states and provinces. The forage is required to be inspected in the field of origin prior to cutting or harvesting. Forage containing any noxious weeds or other listed weeds may be certified, if prescribed treatments are followed; these treatments will vary depending on the type of weed. Then, if your hay passes, you will receive an inspection certificate verifying the results.

When shipping across state lines, a transit certificate or certification marking must accompany the hay to avoid rejection.

Contact your local weed control authority for more details. In Lancaster County, you can contact Lancaster County Weed Control at 402-441-7817.

Certifying hay as "weed free" can offer other markets for your hay, but you must plan ahead and schedule the inspection plenty of time in advance of cutting your hay.

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