Buying Hay – Does It Have Herbicide On It?

Cottonseed meal as fertilizer

Q: I’m using hay bought from a local feed and seed store to use as a garden mulch. Should I be worried that the hay may have been sprayed with a herbicide and the damage that may do to my vegetables? 

A: Yes, you should be worried unless you know specifically who provided the hay. It is not unusual for hayfields to be sprayed with herbicide to control weeds. If your store unknowingly buys it, your garden might suffer. It’s simple to do a bio-assay to detect contamination. Buy a six-pack of tomato seedlings and pull out two. Jab a hole in a hay bale that’s large enough to hold the tomato roots. Place the two plants into the hay, leaving the leaves showing. Water a couple of times in the next few days. Tomatoes are very sensitive to herbicides and will let you know within a week if the soil is contaminated. The leaves will become thick and twisted and will be obviously malformed.

  • Advertisement