Texas hay producers, including Ellis County, had a bumper crop year in 2007.

Local production estimates indicate Ellis County hay producers baled more than $21 million worth of hay. With a surplus, many producers may be planning on selling or shipping some of their excess hay stocks. Those who are planning on shipping hay out of the area, though, need to be aware of several regulations and guidelines.

There are 163 Texas counties, including Ellis County, that are quarantined for imported fire ant. Under Texas Administrative Code, Title 4, Chapter 19, Subchapter J, hay from counties infested by IFA is prohibited from being moved into non-infested counties – unless the hay has been stored on a concrete slab or heavy duty plastic and the premises where it was stored was kept free of IFA using appropriate bait treatments recommended by Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s imported fire ant research and management project’s Web site http://fireant.tamu.edu.

A list of quarantined counties is located online at www.tda.state.tx.us. Quarantined counties may also be determined by calling 1-800-TELL-TDA. Hay from non-infested counties can be certified based upon the county of hay origin. Prior to movement of hay from an infested county to a non-infested county in Texas or another state, the hay producer or shipper must contact his or her local Texas Department of Agriculture office to have the hay inspected and to receive a phytosanitary certificate.

A list of quarantined articles is:

• The red imported fire ant in any living state of development

• Soil, compost, decomposed manure, humus, muck and peat, separately or with other things

• Plants with roots with soil attached

• Grass sod

• Baled hay and baled straw stored in direct contact with the ground

• Logs, pulpwood and stump wood

• Used mechanized soil-moving equipment

Any other products, articles or means of conveyance of any character whatsoever not covered by subsection (a) of this section are quarantined articles when it is determined that they present a hazard of spread of red imported fire ants and the person in possession thereof has been so notified, according to the code.

For more information about the quarantine program contact the Texas Department of Agriculture. For further information, contact Mark Arnold, county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, 701 S. Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie, 972-825-5175 or wmarnold@ag.tamu.edu.