Keep an eye on hay feeding sites

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A brown cow and a black cow eating hay

Watch out for weeds that have hitched a ride in hay feed. Hay-feeding sites are susceptible to opportunistic weeds, and you might be finding unfamiliar weeds if hay was brought in from other states.

When springtime rolls around, we often see an increase in weeds at and around hay-feeding sites. While these newly budding infestations may come as a surprise to some, hay-feeding can create the perfect scenario for weed encroachment.

The reasons are twofold: 1. Areas with heavy hoof traffic – such as hay-feeding areas – open the ground for weeds to take root; and 2. Weed seeds (they’re viable even after they’ve dried out) can linger in hay baled from fields that were not treated. Weed encroachment from hay is especially concerning following a drought year when hay inventories are being resourced from elsewhere.

“During drought, many producers are faced with especially tough decisions, including hay feeding,” says Will Hatler, field scientist from Corteva Agriscience. “Hay being shipped in from other states to meet feed demands during the drought can introduce invasive species a producer may not be familiar with.”



It’s critical to scout pastures frequently; correctly identifying the weed early is the first step to treating it. And if it’s a weed you haven’t seen before, our weed ID guide is a good place to start.

“I always encourage producers to get out into their pastures,” Hatler says. “Sometimes if we just drive past a weed and don’t stop to examine it, we might misidentify it. This is especially true with invasives that have found their way into new territories.”

Although we can’t always plan for what Mother Nature has in store for the grazing season, we can prepare our grazing lands to best endure stress brought by weather. Proactively identifying the weeds in your pastures can help you get the proper plan for control ready to use this spring. And by removing weedy competition early, you’re giving grass a jump-start on production.



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