MANHATTAN, Kan. - The problem of haying acres containing the noxious weed sericea lespedeza has become an issue again, with the release of Conservation Reserve Program acres for emergency haying, said Kansas State University agronomist Walt Fick.

The concern is that hay harvested from CRP fields may contain sericea lespedeza seed. If fed to livestock on clean pastures, that could spread the invasive weed, said Fick, who is a forage management specialist with K-State Research and Extension.

The Kansas Noxious Weed Law prohibits the sale and feeding of livestock feed containing noxious weed seeds, except if fed on the farm where the feed was grown or processed to destroy the seeds' viability.

Based on the plant's growth cycle, sericea lespedeza cut before the bud-to-bloom stage actually makes a good hay, Fick said. Areas with good growing conditions could now have sericea lespedeza in that stage.

The hay-drying process allows the plant's tannins to degrade, making it high-quality feed.

But, once flowering begins, producers should consider the sericea lespedeza to have seed.

Producers should not hay the forage from infested acres, Fick said. If they already have, however, they may not sell, give away, or move the hay from the farm where it was grown. He advises producers to consider the history of CRP fields and make a visual inspection of hay bales. If they suspect seed may be present, they should break open a bale to inspect.

Even that is no guarantee that no sericea seed is present, Fick said. So, people feeding the hay also should watch for the appearance of noxious weeds for several years.

SOURCE: K-State Extension news release.