1. Obtain a copy of Arizona Crop Improvement Association noxious weed forage and mulch standards.

2. Check the certification rules and get acquainted with Arizona and the North American Noxious Weed lists.

3. An inspection request form (Appendix C) shall be completed by the producer prior to inspection.

4. Rogue the field(s) of all noxious weeds that are listed on the Arizona and the North American Noxious Weed list.

5. Be certain that the field(s) have been inspected by an ACIA representative before beginning harvest and understand any instructions or restrictions that may affect the manner of harvest.

6. Fields cut prior to inspection are not eligible for certification.

7. Clean all forage and mulch equipment and storage facilities before exposing them to certified forage or mulch. These include combines, wagons, trailers, and storage areas.

8. The certification process is complete only when forage or mulch is properly identified with an approved certification label and twine.


a. “Certification markings” means tags, blue and orange colored twine and galvanized wire.

b. “Cubes” means certified weed free forage that has been processed into cubes form. Cubes, as that term is used herein, are derived solely from hay and not from other feed crops.

c. “Field” is defined as the area occupied by one crop, covered by one inspection report and not divided by streams, public roads, other crops, or other barriers that materially increase the difficulty of inspection

d. “Forage” includes hay, straw, mulch, cubes, feed grain and pellets

e. “Noxious weeds” Those weeds including any weed seed or propagative plant parts, designated by North America Weed Free Forage Committee and the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

f. “Pellets” means certified weed free forage that has been processed into pellet form. Pellets, as the term is used herein, are derived solely from hay and not from other feed crops. (Pellets produced by heat treatment of at least 140 °F are considered weed free).

g. “Producer” is the grower and/or seller of the forage.

h. “Propagative plant parts” are any part of plant capable of reproducing themselves, including live roots, rhizomes, and/or stolons present in the forage to be harvested

i. “Treated” means utilizing treatment methods to prevent weed seed formation including, but not limited to, burning, mowing, roguing, mechanical methods, or chemical treatment.

j. “Weeds” are those weeds set forth in Arizona and the North American list

k. “Weed free” means to be free from propagative plant parts and free from weed seed from plants set forth on the Arizona and North American Designated noxious weed list (see Appendix A and B, respectively).

l. Weed seed” includes the bud stage of broadleaf plants and boot stage of grasses.


The purpose of the Noxious Weed Free Forage and Mulch certification program is to prevent the spread of noxious weeds. This voluntary certification program is designed to assure that forage and straw sold with proper certification identification meets minimum standards designed to limit the spread of noxious weeds. Buyers are provided assurance that forage and straw certified through this program meet these minimum standards.

The Arizona Crop Improvement Association observes a specific set of standards, separate from seed certification standards, to operate this program.

These certification standards comply with the North American Weed Free Forage Certification Standards developed by the North American Weed Free Forage Committee of the North American Weed Management Association. The North American Weed Free Forage Committee has established minimum standards to allow uniform participation by states and provinces in the program. Forage and straw certified under the ACIA certification program, with proper certification markings attached, will be eligible to be shipped into restricted areas in the United States and Canada where only forage and straw certified under the North American Forage Certification Standards can be used.

The various inspections that are an integral part of this program minimize the opportunity for misleading or fraudulent actions on the part of the applicants participating in the program. However, the production and distribution of certified material depends on the integrity of those participating in the program. The ACIA Board of Directors will act on any case where rules established by the ACIA are knowingly or intentionally violated. Action taken by the Board of Directors may result in the suspension of membership in the ACIA.

It is the responsibility of every member of the ACIA to abide by the rules, adhere to the standards, and report irregularities or violations.


Applicants desiring to have their forage and/or straw certified must apply to the Arizona Crop Improvement Association on an application form supplied by the Association. Forms are available upon request from the ACIA office, at the following location.:

2120 E. Allen Road
Tucson, Arizona 85719

Applications must be received fourteen (14) calendar days prior to cutting. Late applications may result in the field inspection not being made. If such inspections can be arranged, a late application fee will be assessed. If the certified forage or straw field is also being inspected for certified seed production, indicate the corresponding seed production field number(s) on the application form.


To be eligible for forage or straw certification, fields must be inspected by a representative of Arizona Crop Improvement Association before harvest. A crop that is harvested prior to inspection is not eligible for certification. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the crop has been inspected before harvest.

Field inspection is a thorough examination of the forage or straw production site to confirm compliance with the certification standards. The inspector will make a visual inspection of the field and entire field border. ACIA’s inspection procedures will follow the guidelines established by the North American Weed Free Forage Standards. Any condition(s) that are apt to make inspection inaccurate or bring the certification process into disfavor, shall be cause for rejection.


1. There shall be a minimum of two entry points per field.

2. There shall be minimum of one entry point per each 10 acres.

3. Each point of entry shall be at least 150 feet into the field, and each additional 150 traveled shall constitute an entry point. Travel shall be uninterrupted, proceeding through the field being inspected.

4. The entire field border shall be walked or driven.

5. Fields shall be inspected within 10 days prior to harvest.

6. The storage area shall also be inspected and meet the standards.

7. An inspector may not inspect fields of which said inspector has ownership or financial interest.


Forage and straw shall be free of those noxious weeds and undesirable plant species identified in Appendix A, B.

1. In Arizona, forage and straw fields shall be inspected by the Arizona Crop Improvement Association.

2. Forage and straw shall be inspected in the field of origin. The field shall include the surrounding ditches, fencerows, roads, easements, grass waterways, or a buffer zone surrounding the field.

3. The field must be inspected by ACIA prior to cutting or harvesting.

4. Forage which contains any noxious weeds, or undesirable plant species, as identified in Appendix A and B, may be certified if the following requirements are met:

a) Field upon which the forage was produced was treated to prevent seed formation or seed ripening to the degree that there is no danger of dissemination of the seed, or any injurious portion thereof from such noxious weeds, or undesirable plant species, or the propagating parts of the plant are not capable of producing a new plant.

b) Noxious weed(s) or undesirable plant species was treated not later than rosette to bud stage, or boot stage for perennial grass species classified as weeds, prior to cutting or harvesting.

c) Treatment method can include but is not limited to: 1) burning, 2) mowing, cutting or rouging, 3) mechanical methods, or 4)chemicals.

5. An Inspection Certificate (Appendix D) shall be issued by Arizona Crop Improvement Association indicating that the above requirements have been met based upon field inspection.

6. Interstate shipment of forage shall be accompanied by an original transit certificate issued by ACIA or authority in the state/province of origin. Shipment into restricted areas not accompanied by the proper transit certificate may be rejected.

7. Pellets and pelleted milled feeds may be certified in the field or may be certified based on official testing by an ACIA approved lab for weed seed viability. Proof of results shall be submitted to ACIA immediately upon completion.

8. Using a transit certificate or certification marking for forage from fields other than the one specified shall constitute a violation of ACIA and North America Weed-Free forage standards. The ACIA Board of Directors will act on any violation knowingly committed and that may result in the suspension of the membership in the ACIA.


The applicant must keep accurate records of the amount of forage or straw harvested from each field including where the forage or straw is stored after harvest. The following records must be maintained:

1. The number and average weight of bales harvested;

2. The exact location where bales are stored;

3. Date of harvest;

4. Field number and location of the field where the product was produced;

5. Copies of all certification documents;

6. Current inventory records;


Certification tags and Transit Certificates (Appendix E) will be issued for eligible forage or straw, by ACIA, upon request by the applicant. Applicants may request certification tags and/or Transit Certificates by declaring the amount of forage or straw harvested on the Inspection Certificate.


1. Be a member of the Arizona Crop Improvement Association.

2. Submit the application for field inspection (Appendix C) fourteen (14) calendar days prior to cutting, for forage. Application must include:

a. a map indicating location of field.

b. indication of whether the field if being applied for under the seed certification program.

c. Approximate cutting date.

3. Prepare the field for inspection. Treat noxious weeds and undesirable plant species adjacent to the production field as described in the standards. If noxious weeds in adjacent areas are not treated, a 10-foot wide isolation/buffer strip must be established by mowing or cultivation.

4. All fields must be inspected prior to harvest by ACIA to qualify for certification. Notify ACIA if your fields are within a week of cutting and you do not have an inspection report indicating the field has been inspected.

5. If field meets certification standards, proceed to step 6. If the field does not meet the standards, proceed to the Re-inspection Procedures below.

6. Maintain the identity of all forage or straw harvested from fields meeting the certification standards. The forage or straw must by stored separate from uncertified forage or straw. A written record of certified material stored at this site must be maintained.

7. Attach the certification tags/twine provided by ACIA to eligible forage.

8. Keep a record of twine and tags consumed. Maintain secure custody of any twine and tags not consumed and make available for audit.

Re-inspection Procedures: (To be used when a portion of field does not meet the certification standards – i.e. noxious weeds in the field and/or lack of required isolation/buffer strips.)

1. Make the required correction(s) as indicated on the inspection report by the ACIA inspector.

2. Contact ACIA for re-inspection to verify that the required corrections have been completed. A re-inspection fee will be charged.

3. Proceed to step 6.


1. To supply each grower with instructions and materials for making applications for field inspections.

2. To inspect fields 10 days prior to harvest.

3. To issue labels/Twine for product that qualifies under the certification standards.

4. The association will, at its discretion, publish a directory of producers of certified noxious weed free forage.

5. Maintain records of field applications and inspections reports.