When to seed wheat; avoid toxic feed

By Deborah Reinhart Brown - Ag update

What a beautiful blue sky last Thursday — not a cloud to be seen!! I even got to drive tractor, the first time since last fall! The beans came off Wednesday, and I got to haul some into town. Stanley got the wheat planted, too! It’s so nice to have great days like that! And I most definitely saw combines, wagons and tractors and trucks almost everywhere last week! What great weather for harvest!!

While the weather has been less than perfect this fall, there have been a bunch of wheat acres planted already … with quite a bit already up. The best time to plant wheat is within that 14-day period after the fly-free-safe date. But, there could still be time …

According to our small grains specialist, Laura Lindsey, wheat planted after that period can achieve the same yield as that planted earlier if we don’t get freezing weather until late November/early December. But, to be safe, in this three-to-four weeks after the fly-free-safe date, we need to plant at a higher seeding rate to compensate for less tiller development. Additionally, late planting also means plants will be smaller than normal when entering dormancy and have smaller and more shallow root systems than normal, which makes them more susceptible to heaving next March. The best heaving control is to get the seed placed between 1.0 and 1.5 inches deep when planting and to plant no-till. These two practices combined will reduce heaving potential by more than 95 percent.

Some forage species can be extremely toxic soon after frost. These species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. A few legumes species also have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost.

Animals can die within minutes if they consume forage with high concentrations of prussic acid, because it interferes with oxygen transfer in the blood stream, causing the animal to die of asphyxiation. Before death, symptoms include excess salivation, difficulty breathing, staggering, convulsions and collapse. Ruminants are more susceptible to prussic acid poisoning than horses or swine because cud chewing and rumen bacteria help release the cyanide from plant tissue.

Some of the forage species that can contain prussic acid are grain sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums, sudangrass hybrids and sometimes sudangrass varieties. Some plants not used for forages can also cause prussic acid poisoning if livestock eat them: johnsongrass, shattercane, chokecherry, black cherry and elderberry. If you’ve got any of these trees near pastures, check those areas and pick up any fallen limbs after a storm to prevent animals from grazing on the leaves and twigs.

Forage legumes such as alfalfa and clovers have an increased risk of bloat when grazed one or two days after a hard frost. The bloat risk is highest when grazing pure legume stands and least when grazing stands having mostly grass.

The safest management is to wait a few days after a killing frost before grazing pure legume stands. Wait until the forage begins to dry from the frost damage. It is also a good idea to make sure animals have some dry hay before being introduced to lush fall pastures that contain significant amounts of legumes.

Agronomists at the University of Wisconsin have developed a “Field Loss Calculator” Excel spreadsheet available at http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/Season/DSS.aspx that allows producers to calculate the costs of harvesting today versus allowing the crop to stand in the field and harvesting later. The spreadsheet accounts for higher drying costs versus grain losses during field drying. It allows the user to account for elevator discounts and grain shrink.

Well, have a great week!! Be safe, everyone!! Remember to watch for farm equipment on the roadways — and be sure to keep that equipment visible!!


By Deborah Reinhart Brown

Ag update

The writer can be reached at the OSU Extension office (937-498-7239) or by email at brown.1522@osu.edu.

The writer can be reached at the OSU Extension office (937-498-7239) or by email at brown.1522@osu.edu.