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Cutting Johnsongrass hay in drought conditions.

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Devin

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I have a field that has got alot of Johnsongrass in it. It has been pretty dry here in western KY for about 3 to 4 weeks. I would like to cut this for hay just in case I need it as I am already feeding a little hay. I have heard that Johnsongrass can be toxic after a frost ( I guess it's prussic acid?) I have also heard that this can be present in drought conditions as well. I was told by another farmer that if I cut the Johnsongrass, the curing process will release any toxins that might be present. I am not sure. Will I be ok to cut and bale now or do I need to wait for a rain? Any advice would be appreciated.
Devin
 

Larry Sansom

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Devin":3ol7hkft said:
I have a field that has got alot of Johnsongrass in it. It has been pretty dry here in western KY for about 3 to 4 weeks. I would like to cut this for hay just in case I need it as I am already feeding a little hay. I have heard that Johnsongrass can be toxic after a frost ( I guess it's prussic acid?) I have also heard that this can be present in drought conditions as well. I was told by another farmer that if I cut the Johnsongrass, the curing process will release any toxins that might be present. I am not sure. Will I be ok to cut and bale now or do I need to wait for a rain? Any advice would be appreciated.
Devin
Do Not cut it - Drought conditions will cause that hay to have problems. several cattle were killed down in Bowling Green a few years ago with exactly what you are referring to. ( Isn't it tough watching 3 major hurricanes come up from the south, flooding areas, and we can't get a drop in western KY- yes my pastures are dry, but the bigger problems are ponds getting low)
 

Arnold Ziffle

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If you really need to cut it now I think you should first take a representative sample and have it tested for prussic acid and also nitrate poison, assuming you have a testing facility nearby that can give you the results in quick order. I had a lot of it a few years ago that grew in such terribly dry weather that I had decided to just shred it and wait for rain and regrowth, convinced that it would have one or both of the poisons. But at the last minute I decided to run a sample over to the test facility, and it tested OK. Had it baled quickly thereafter and fed it without any harmful effect. If my memory serves correctly, the prussic will dissipate from cut hay with the passage of ample time but the nitrate will not (or maybe its the other way around).
 
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Devin

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Thanks for the quick answers. I don't know about you Larry, but our ponds are going fast. I may have to turn on the county water next week. Hate to do it though, it's kinda pricey. Thanks again
Devin
 

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