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APRIL 2018 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC


35


Weeds a big challenge for forage producers Forage council calling for increased enforcement of Weed Control Act


by TOM WALKER RICHMOND – The BC


Forage Council is increasing its efforts against invasive weeds. ”Forage producers have identified weed management as a top priority for 2018,” BCFC manager Serena Black told the Invasives 2018 forum in Richmond earlier this year. “At our fall AGM, one of the objectives developed was to put more energy back into invasive pests. We have re-established the weed sub-committee that was previously active in the past.” Weeds have a serious


impact on forage production volume, quality and value, whether it is grown for a producer’s own use or sale. “Weeds are one of the biggest challenge for forage producers across the entire province,” says Black. “It’s not just invasive plants, but also unwanted plants in our fields.” The economic importance


of forage can sometimes be overlooked, Black points out. “It is the third largest cultivated crop in Canada behind canola and wheat with 28 million hectares planted and an annual value of $5.1 billion,” she notes. “Because a lot of forage is grown for the farmers’ own use in cattle, dairy and horse operations, it is not always noticed.” As a perennial crop that


may not see any machine inputs for a number of years, it is difficult to manage weeds in forage with more traditional chemical interventions. “A lot of the growers I work


with are not putting any mechanization on their fields for 15 to 20 years,” says Black. It’s best to try and keep the weeds out in the first place, she advised. “Weeds are spread into


A well-managed grassland south of Kamloops appears free of invasive weeds but that’s not always the case. SUBMITTED PHOTO


forage when poor quality hay is purchased by an operation,” Black explains. “There is no system in Canada to check hay for weeds and that is often how they are brought onto a property.”


Black added that in times


of emergency, such as last summer’s fires, producers may be in an unfortunate situation where they need to take whatever forage they can access. Weeds also spread from


nearby properties. “It’s a challenge with neighbouring lands,” Black


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notes. “Even if you are educated and proactive on your own land, if a neighbour’s land is managed poorly or not at all, your own land suffers.”


“We have some serious


producers who grow very high quality hay for export and follow very strict guidelines, so it’s a really big problem if your neighbours


don’t have it under control.” “Ranchers often joke that


highways are the worst neighbours to have,” says


See WEED on next page o


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