Hay producers and truckers should be aware of USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) rules restricting movement of hay out of fire ant-quarantined areas. Extremely dry conditions in the Southeast have increased hay movements, and some growers may not be familiar with the quarantine rules.
Paul Shell, plant inspection and quarantine manager with the Arkansas State Plant Board, says that if a hay producer is in a fire-ant quarantine area, that hay must be certified before it can move out of the quarantined area.
"The hay can be moved if the producer receives certification indicating the hay was not stored on the ground and was moved off the ground to a concrete or asphalt pad within 24 hours of being cut. Hay can't be certified for movement outside of the quarantined area if it was stored on the ground," he says. Inspections cost around $50 in Arkansas.
Fire ants are a problem throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, southern Arkansas, as well as parts of Tennessee, Texas and North Carolina. A few isolated areas in California and New Mexico are also affected. The quarantine is to prevent the insects from spreading to new areas.
Shell suggests hay producers call county Extension agents or APHIS for specific rules pertaining to their locations.
For more on fire ants, and links to quarantine info, visit hayandforage.com. There you can also sign up for the free weekly electronic newsletter.
-- eHay Weekly