Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Protect Your Property from Invasive Noxious Weeds

Mile-a-minute vine.  Photo by Dave Jackson

An Act that will regulate controlled plants and noxious weeds (Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act) has been introduced to the House (HB 790) by Rep. Pashinski et al. and Senate (SB 567) by Senator Argall et al. Both Bills have been referred to the respective Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees. The new Act would replace the current Noxious Weed Control Law that has been in place for decades.

The new Act will modernize PA's noxious weed law by prioritizing invasive plant management based on the ability to effectively contain or even eradicate certain species. In addition, it will help build awareness of problem weed species that require proactive attention. Now is a great time to let your House and Senate representatives know what you think about this new legislation on noxious weeds.

The new Act groups plants into three categories;
Class A: weeds are currently geographically limited in the Commonwealth and are intended to be eradicated if at all possible. Kudzu and giant hogweed are good examples of Class A weeds. Two new invasive pigweeds (Palmer amaranth and waterhemp) are included as Class A weeds in the new Act. Palmer amaranth is currently a noxious weed in Delaware, Ohio, and Minnesota and is under consideration in several other states.
Class B: weeds are widely established in the Commonwealth and it is not feasible to eradicate them. Although they are still important, limited resources must be focused on the species that will maximize impact. Canada thistle and multiflora rose are examples of Class B weeds.
Class C: weeds pose a potential threat if introduced, but currently are not known to exist in the Commonwealth. A number of Federal noxious weeds are Class C weeds.

What would the new noxious weed law mean to PA?
First and foremost, it would provide increased awareness to recognize that certain weed species are a big problem. Class A weeds will require proactive management and this will help direct educational efforts. Proactive management reduces the chance of movement and introduction onto your farm or in your area.

There are costs associated with monitoring and managing noxious weeds. With the invasive pigweeds, PA imports unwanted seed through other commodities and equipment. This will require additional quality control measures for feed, seed, and forage producers. The seed industry will need to evaluate seed sources, making sure they have a quality product that does not contain noxious weed seed.

Custom equipment operators will need to be diligent about where they operate and about cleaning equipment if they encounter a contaminated farm. Farm supply and export enterprises need to be part of the solution to ensure that noxious weeds are not transported or spread within or out of the state. In the end, the new Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act can help to protect the productivity and profitability of the Commonwealth and position PA as a leader among other states regarding proactive weed management.

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