Alberta Certified Weed Free Hay Program

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Hay that is certified under the Alberta Certified Weed Free Hay Program is not guaranteed to be absolutely free of all weed species. Certification means that the field was inspected following minimum standards and found to be free of species regulated by the Alberta Weed Control Act and North American Weed Free Forage Certification Standards. There are 95 species that are designated under the Alberta Certified Weed Free Hay Program.

Certification does not guarantee a complete absence of weeds in the hay. Certification is only for species on the designated list and indicates that the inspector made a reasonable and prudent visual inspection of the field and did not find any of the 95 species on the designated weed list. A field may be certified if it contains weed species that are not on the designated weed list. Certification does not guarantee protein content, maturity or other quality factors of the hay.

For More Information on the Alberta Certified Weed Free Hay Program and designated weed list, please refer to the information below.

Alberta Certified Weed Free Hay Program

1. Introduction .
There is a growing demand within Alberta and across North America for hay that has been inspected and certified as weed free. The spread of weeds through hay has been well documented and the associated costs have increased demand for access to a weed free product. To meet this demand, rural municipalities and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development have developed a voluntary weed free hay inspection and certification program.

For more information, please check out the program brochure.

2. Program Objectives

  • To provide a premium product that is recognized as marketable and transportable
  • To prevent the spread of weeds and undesirable plant species
  • To protect private and public lands from invasive plant species
  • To increase awareness of the environmental impact of non-native, invasive plant species
3. What is “Certified Weed Free Hay” under this program?
Fields which are found to be free of viable seed or other reproductive parts of plants identified in the Weed List (attached) may be certified. The standards for certification are consistent with the “North American Weed Free Forage Certification Program” standards. It is possible that non-reproductive, or vegetative, parts of a plant on the attached Weed List may be present in fields certified as weed free.

4. Why purchase or produce Certified Weed Free Hay?
Weed free hay can:
  • Be a preferred product choice
  • Bring a premium when sold
  • Prevent weeds from spreading within the farm and between farms
  • Prevent invasive species from becoming established in riparian and other environmentally sensitive areas
5. How does the certification process work?
Fields must be inspected a maximum of 10 days prior to cutting. Inspections will be conducted on a field-by field basis. Certification is based on visual inspection by qualified personnel using a standard inspection procedure. A certificate of inspection is issued to the producer if the field meets the requirements. Further details on the field inspection process can be obtained from your local Agricultural Fieldman.

6. How do I get my field inspected/certified?
Contact your local municipality’s Agricultural Fieldman. They will inspect the field using the latest field inspection and certification form. If it passes inspection, they will issue a certificate and provide you with a source for specially marked twine.

7. Where is certified weed free hay desirable?
Use of certified weed free hay is a sound management practice anywhere in Alberta, benefitting both private and public lands. National Parks in Alberta may require that hay used within the parks be weed free. Provincial legislation may also regulate feedstuffs brought onto specified provincial lands and require the use of weed free hay.

8. How do I know I am purchasing certified weed free hay?
Certified weed free hay will be bound with a special coloured twine, or labeled with a specific tag, and a “Certificate of Inspection” will be issued to the producer to confirm the field meets inspection criteria.

9. How can I sell or purchase certified weed free hay?
Listings of hay for sale or purchase are available on the Alberta Hay and Pasture Directory on the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website. The listings for certified weed free hay will be designated with the following icon to differentiate them from other listings. You will also be able to selectively search for certified weed free hay in the directory. For more information on the program, contact your local Agricultural Fieldman or the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM.

10. Where can I go for more information on weeds, invasive plants, and their control?
Information on the Alberta Weed Control Act and Regulation is available on the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website, along with fact sheets on weed control options. Information on the impact invasive plants have on environmentally sensitive areas and what can be done to prevent their establishment can be found on the Alberta Invasive Plants Council website.

Designated Weed List and Undesirable Plant Species List

Absinth WormwoodArtemisia absinthiumLeafy SpurgeEuphorbia esula
Autumn OliveElaeagnus umbellataLens Podded Hoary CressLepidium chalepense
Baby's BreathGypsophila paniculataLesser BurdockArctium minus
BermudagrassCynodon dactylonMarsh ThistleCirsium palustre
Bighead KnapweedCentaurea macrocephalaMatgrassNardus stricta
Black HenbaneHyoscyamus nigerMeadow HawkweedHieracium caespitosum
Black KnapweedCentaurea nigraMeadow KnapweedCentaurea x moncktonii
BlueweedEchium vulgareMedusaheadTaeniatherum caput-medusae
Broad Leaved Pepper GrassLepidium latifoliumMiliumMilium vernale
Brown KnapweedCentaurea jaceaMouse Ear HawkweedHieracium pilosella
BuffaloburSolanum rostratum Nodding ThistleCarduus nutans
Canada ThistleCirsium arvenseOrange HawkweedHieracium aurantiacum
CarawayCarum carviOxeye DaisyLeucanthemum vulgare
Chinese TamariskTamarix chinensisPale Yellow IrisIris pseudacorus
Common BarberryBerberis vulgarisPerennial SorghumSorghum almum
Common BuckthornRhamnus cathartica Perennial SowthistleSonchus arvensis
Common CrupinaCrupina vulgarisPlumeless ThistleCarduus acanthoides
Common MulleinVerbascum thapsusPoison HemlockConium maculatum
Common St. John's WortHypericum perforatumPuncturevineTribulus terrestris
Common TansyTanacetum vulgarePurple LoosestrifeLythrum salicaria
Creeping BellflowerCampanula rapunculoidesQuackgrassAgropyron repens
Dalmatian ToadflaxLinaria dalmaticaRed BartsiaOdontites vernus
Dame's RocketHesperis matronalisRush SkeletonweedChondrilla juncea
Diffuse KnapweedCentaurea diffusaRussian KnapweedRhaponticum repens
Downy BromeBromus tectorum SaltcedarTamarix ramosissima
Dyer's WoadIsatis tinctoriaSaltloverHalogeton glomeratus
Eurasian Water MilfoilMyriophyllum spicatum Scentless ChamomileTripleurospermum inodorum
Field BindweedConvolvulus arvensisScotch ThistleOnopordum acanthium
Field ScabiousKnautia arvensisSericia LespedezaLespedeza cuneata
Flowering RushButomus umbellatusSilverleaf NightshadeSolanum elaeagnifolium
Garlic MustardAlliaria petiolataSkeletonleaf BursageAmbrosia tomentosa
Giant HogweedHeracleum mantegazzianum Smallflower TamariskTamarix parviflora
Giant KnotweedFallopia sachalinensisSpotted KnapweedCentaurea stoebe
Gobe Podded Hoary CressLepidium appelianumSquarrose KnapweedCentaurea virgata
Greater BurdockArctium lappaSulphur CinquefoilPotentilla recta
Heart Podded Hoary CressLepidium drabaSyrian BeancaperZygophyllum fabago
Hemp (marijuana)Cannabis sativaTall ButtercupRanunculus acris
Himalayan BalsamImpatiens glanduliferaTansy RagwortJacobaea vulgaris
Hoary AlyssumBerteroa incana Toothed SpurgeEuphorbia dentata
HorsenettleSolanum carolinense Tyrol knapweedCentaurea nigrescens
Hound's TongueCynoglossum officinaleWhite CockleSilene latifolia
Hybrid Japanese knotweedFallopia x bohemicaWild OatsAvena fatua
Hybrid KnapweedCentaurea x psammogenaWild Proso MilletPanicum miliaceum
Japanese BromeBromus japonicusWoolly BurdockArctium tomentosum
Japanese KnotweedFallopia japonicaYellow ClematisClematis tangutica
JohnsongrassSorghum halepenseYellow NutsedgeCyperus esculentus
Jointed GoatgrassAegilops cylindricaYellow StarthistleCentaurea solstitialis
Yellow ToadflaxLinaria vulgaris
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Mark Cutts.
This document is maintained by Lorraine McAllister.
This information published to the web on June 25, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 6, 2017.