Row crop farmers harvesting their main crop are being encouraged to consider baling up what remains as food for use at drought-stricken livestock operations. However,farmers should keep in mind that fire ant quarantine rules apply before moving any crop residues, agriculture officials said.

Many crop residues can provide forage for cattle, provided they weren’t treated with any chemicals that might bar it from being feed, said Shane Gadberry, associate professor-ruminant nutrition for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Possibilities include peanut hay -- the dried vines of harvested peanut plants; rice stubble, as well as corn and sorghum stalks.

Kelly Loftin, Extension entomologist, said that quarantines meant to stem the spread of the red imported fire ant, apply for crop residues too. He notes that case-by-case certifications may be made even when moving crop residue from a quarantined area to a non-quarantined area -- provided the crop residues have been handled in a way that would prevent fire ants from climbing aboard.

This takes some planning.

“Before you harvest the crop residue or put it in round bales, treat the storage area with fire ant baits,” Loftin said. “Before you stack the material on the ground, put down a plastic barrier, 6 mils thick, and stack the hay on top of it, so the hay can be easily inspected, certified and shipped to those in need.”

All hay and crop residue from quarantined areas being shipped to a non-quarantined area must carry documentation that it has been certified fire-ant free.

Details about shipping hay can be found here.

The most recent fire ant quarantine map can be found here.

To find fire ant quarantine areas by zip code, see here.

For questions about hay and restrictions, contact Paul Shell or Terry Walker with the Arkansas State Plant board at (501) 225-1598.

For more information about livestock production, visit http://arkansaslivestockdotcom.wordpress.com/ and for drought information, visit arkdroughtresourcecenter.wordpress.com.