Closeup of palmer amaranth
SURPRISE! Your worst-case weed, Palmer amaranth, may come in a seed bag.

Illegally bagged seed more pain than gain

Crop Tech Update: Brown-bagged and other improperly labeled seed may carry seeds of weeds to come.

‘Brown baggers’ more pain than gain

Buying cheaper seed isn’t worth the aggravation that follows — especially if it’s illegal. That’s why state ag secretaries and commissioners warn against buying and selling “brown bag” seed almost every spring.

If it’s not tested for purity and germination and doesn’t carry your state’s label, it’s illegal. If it’s distributed by a seedsman not certified by your state, these “brown baggers” are just as illegal. That name and address must be on the seed tag. If not, you may get far more than what you don’t pay for.

Pay close attention to that seed tag so you don’t inadvertently violate patent and federal Plant Variety Protection Act laws. Today’s seeds are patented intellectual property and fiercely protected.

There’s another reason. A few seed marketers have been playing fast and loose with the burgeoning demand for conservation pollination mixes and cover crop seed. It’s a prime market for hucksters. Cover crops are supposed to help control weeds, not bring them onto your farm.

In at least five Midwest states, for instance, part of the spread of Palmer amaranth pigweed was via contamination of seed sold for conservation plantings of wildlife habitat. Elsewhere, ryegrass seed has

sprouted in cereal rye fields, greatly complicating cover crop control.

So be careful about seed or grain you save and hope to sell. Don’t be a brown-bagger. The number of investigations, violations and penalties is rising every year.

Got ‘good’ spraying water?

If your well water is good enough to drink, it’s good enough for pesticide and fertilizer spraying. Right? But how long has it been since you’ve had your spray water sources quality-tested?

You spend a lot of money on liquid fertilizers and pesticides, and the quality of your water carrier has a tremendous impact on product performance, cautions Grant Troop, regional agronomist for AgExplore. Each water source needs to be properly conditioned and buffered. Don’t guess, he stresses.

Water sources run the gamut from soft to very hard and very acidic to highly alkaline. Get them tested. Spray efficacy — and your investment — is at stake.

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