The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is issuing a warning to landowners: Be cautious when buying and planting seed, especially for conservation plantings.
Recently, the MDA has encountered several issues with seed sold in the state. In 2016 and 2017, the highly invasive weed Palmer amaranth was introduced through conservation seed mixes. The department found seed mislabeled with improper information regarding the contents of the mix. Also, seed has been sold with very low germination rates. All of these issues are violations of state law.
“Minnesota’s seed industry is very important to agriculture and conservation efforts,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “We are fortunate to have many reputable native seed producers that benefit conservation and pollinator habitat. However, a few bad players can bring in invasive weeds. It is important we are vigilant as we try to better our landscapes.”
Here is the MDA’s advice for landowners who plan to purchase and plant seed for conservation efforts.
When selecting a vendor to plant a conservation area:
- Ask the seed vendor to provide you a copy of the seed label before buying the seed. Be sure the seed has been tested and confirmed free of Palmer amaranth.
- Make sure the contract with the seeding contractor covers your risks as a landowner. If prohibited noxious weeds are introduced during the project, the vendor should be accountable for their eradication.
At the time of planting:
- Have someone on site when planting to ensure the vendor is performing the work agreed to in the contract.
- Count the number of bags of each seed source and compare that to the invoice.
- Reject any unlabeled seed.
- Be aware of the labels. Examine and keep all seed labels used in a specific planting.
- If any noxious weed seeds are listed on the label, verify that only restricted noxious weed seeds are present at a rate of less than 25 seeds per pound.
- Reject any seed with prohibited noxious weed seeds listed on the label.
- Require the seeding contractor provide planting records. The records should note which seed lots were planted in specific locations, the planting procedures used, site preparation, and equipment used and how that equipment was cleaned.
- Retain the invoice and all paperwork for the project.
- When the conservation plantings begin to grow, note that you are seeing the species that should be there. If a plant looks suspicious, contact the MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 888-545-6684 or your County Ag Inspector.
Landowners with any questions or concerns should consult with their local conservation staff associated with the specific conservation program. They may also contact the MDA for advice and assistance by calling Denise Thiede at 651-201-6531 or emailing her at Denise.Thiede@state.mn.us.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications