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Weed Research & Information Center
University of California
Weed Research & Information Center

Certified Weed Free Forage and Straw Available in California!

The most effective, economical, and ecologically sound method of managing invasive plants is to prevent their invasion in the first place. Resources can be spent most efficiently on proactive activities that focus on stopping the movement of plant seeds and other reproductive parts to new areas.

Straw bale with yellow starthistle - Caples Lake, CA (photo by M. Brown, USFS)
One way that invasive weed seeds and root fragments can be moved is in hay and straw used for animal feed and bedding or in materials used for erosion control. 

Seeds can also be transferred in animal manure if the animal has recently ingested invasive plants in infested feed or while grazing.  These seeds and plant parts can then reproduce and colonize a previously uninfested area --- and if left unchecked, cause damage to wildlife habitat, endangered and threatened species, watershed health, agriculture and recreational opportunities. 

Certified weed free forage is produced and available for sale in California. County Agricultural Commissioners, in conjunction with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), offer inspection services to certify weed free forage materials, which are defined as “hay, feed, straw or straw mulch that has been inspected, and certified not to contain propagative plant parts or seeds of noxious weeds” 

The inspections are completed for species listed on the CDFA noxious weeds list. The inspection and certification of hay and straw products maximizes the probability that invasive plant seeds/parts are not present and that the materials are weed free. An inspection processes cannot reduce the risk to zero, nor are these materials inspected for invasive weeds not listed on the California noxious weed list. 

A list of vendors with certified weed free forage materials for sale is available at:
CDFA/Interior Pest Exclusion:
California Invasive Plant Council:

Additional notes:

  • Land managers needing a large amount of material for the coming year, should contact vendors early in the growing season to make sure sufficient weed free forage/straw will be certified and available for project needs. 
  • Proof of certification, in the form of a copy of CDFA Form 66-079 “Certificate of Quarantine Compliance (CQC)” associated with the inspection of the specific forage/straw materials, is the legal documentation verifying that the materials have been inspected.  
  • Producers seeking weed free certification for hay and straw products should contact your local County Agriculture Commissioner’s office to arrange inspection and certification. Contact information is available at: 
  • Weed-free forage inspection procedures “ Inspection of Forage: Growing, Bales or Other Products for Noxious Weeds” (Section 4-39) are available at:

Posted on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM


Excellent! A weed free forage program is not without its challenges, but it sure is a big step in the right direction. Congratulations.

Posted by Shawna Bautista on April 20, 2012 at 8:51 AM

I see that the list of weed-free suppliers seems to be gone. Is there a supplier list currently available, or even access to the old list for contact purposes?  
John Griffen  
Division Forester, Jackson State Forest, CalFire

Posted by John Griffen on January 22, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Hi John -  
The list is available on the California Invasive Plant Council on the "Prevention Page' --- direct link is:

Posted by Wendy West on January 22, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I have tried ty weed free hay for the last 10 years. I haver not found any that is certified. I have inspected hay myself and brought to the Ag Dept.for certification. But a dealer. Forget it. I have tired the website for certified weed free hay in California, but the web page cannot be found. In Mono County I was given the names of growers in the areq with certied weed free hay. They all had abandoned the program. I obtained a list of weed free dealers in Oregon. Half were offering straw, which is not acceptable for good feed. Most of the others would require a 500 or more mile detour. Ant rest told me they no longer offered the product, This whole thing seems to be a feel good hoax.

Posted by kurt sorensen on January 22, 2013 at 5:46 PM

I concur 100% with Kurt's assessment: the only "forage" available with any certainty, and not having to drive 200 extra miles, is alfalfa cubes/pellets. For pack-in activity, that might be a solution. If you are simply horse camping, no-go. The only reason I can think of why hay farmers no longer participate in the marketing of certified "weed-free" forage is that it is too expensive and cumbersome to justify the market demand, which is small. The effect is for horse owner to choose not to go to those areas where certified weed-free forage is required, ie. Toyabe NF. This is not a good solution for horse-campers, but it's a great solution for the anti-horse crowd and weed-free advocates. Something is wrong with this picture.

Posted by Karl Saarni on July 14, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Hi. I work for the CA Dept of Transportation. We have an erosion control project to apply punched straw into a slope. I have heard that rice straw is more weed free than others but it is not good for punching or crimping into the soil. Can wheat or barely be weed free. Is there other weed free straw for this application? Thank you!

Posted by joel hortizuela on October 30, 2013 at 6:55 AM

I understand the concept but the execution is flawed. Rules without substance are ridiculous. This is a good example. For the hobby horse person who goes out of their way (literally 300 miles for Siskiyou County) to abide, there is great satisfaction that they are doing the right thing. But the market is not in place to support the effort for the masses. Imagine being told that you can only bring non-GMO power bars for a hike in public lands....and the only place to buy them is 150 miles away, one way....and shipping increases your cost.....and you live in an area that is the most productive makers of power bars, just not GMO free....would you really follow the rule? You can not make a rule like this and ignore the market. Please consult an economist to work out a solution where a market is created, the environment benefits, and the intended use is realized.  
And please fix the link for the listed vendors and keep the list updated. An outdated list hidden in another webpage provided in a comment response reinforces the idea that this is not a topic to take seriously.

Posted by Lorrie Bundy on June 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

I have grown certified alfalfa hay for several years. Each field is checked by our county ag dept. If you would like more information e-mail me.  

Posted by Hugh Yamshon on June 25, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Need 50to100 bales of rice straw delivered to me in auburn ca  
How much?  
Nolan 916 601 8372

Posted by Nolan Montney on September 7, 2014 at 3:04 PM

There is an updated WFF and Mulch list at the following site:  
Rice vendors may be found primarily on the first list. Growers on the list usually have something like "Ranch" associated with the name.  
For those not able to find it locally, consider calling a local vendor and asking them if they would carry the product. They can review the list and find producers from which to order the material.  
Good luck~

Posted by Bobbi Simpson on September 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

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