The extent and nature of spread of exotic plant species to and within Alaska by shipment of hay and straw was studied. The amounts of hay and straw imported into Alaska and the amounts and types of seed in imported and locally produced hay and straw was determined We purchased alfalfa hay, wheat straw, ryegrass straw, and timothy hay produced in Washington and Oregon (WA–OR) and locally produced straw and hay. The hay and straw were shaken over screens, and the remaining fines were mixed with sterile potting soil and incubated in the greenhouse. Forty-nine plant species were identified from hay and straw, nine of which are ranked as invasive in Alaska, including downy brome, foxtail barley, hare barley, narrowleaf hawksbeard, and quackgrass—a prohibited weed in Alaska. The number of seeds ranged from 0 to 6,205 seeds kg−1, with an average of 585 seeds kg−1, and the number of species ranged from 0 to 12, with an average of 4.2 species per bale. Crop seed comprised a large proportion of the germinated seeds in ryegrass straw, wheat straw, and timothy/brome hay (98, 78, and 62%, respectively), but was less prevalent (ranging from 0 to 38%) in the other three hay and straw crop types. Hay and straw from Alaska contained more total seeds and species than hay and straw from WA-OR, but the difference was not significant when only weed seed was used in the analysis. Alaska-grown timothy/brome hay contained significantly more total seed than alfalfa hay and wheat straw from WA–OR and Alaska-grown barley straw. The grower or distributor of the hay and straw also influenced the number of seeds and species among some crop types. Results of this study document that large numbers of alien plant species are transported by movements of hay and straw into and within Alaska.
Nomenclature: Alfalfa, Medicago sativa L.; downy brome, Bromus tectorum L. foxtail barley, Hordeum jubatum L. hare barley, Hordeum murinum L. ssp. leporinum (Link) Arcang; narrowleaf hawksbeard, Crepis tectorum L. quackgrass, Elymus repens (L.) Gould; ryegrass, Lolium spp.; timothy, Phleum pratense L.; wheat, Triticum aestivum L