Protect Your Livestock From Fall Prussic Acid and Nitrate Poisoning

Some graziers leave summer annuals growing into the fall, and wonder whether they can and should take advantage of these last fits of growth. The answer is that it’s possible, but you shouldn’t sacrifice a fall planting to do so. Also, you’ve heard about dangers like nitrates and prussic acid that come with stressed plants, so what should you do to hedge against the inevitable frost damaged plants if you keep the stand a little longer? When you keep sorghum sudan, sudangrass, and millet beyond late summer, days may still be warm but nighttime temperatures will be dropping. In addition, day length is getting steadily shorter, reducing photosynthetic potential. Growth will start dropping off, likely after the second cutting (depending on your region). That regrowth looks tempting, but be sure to keep the animals off it until it reaches 18 inches tall for sorghum products, and 12 inches for millet. This may take awhile as temperatures get increasingly cool. If you have not fertilized after the last cut, you have a reduced risk, but try to get it to as close to knee height as possible before grazing it. Both Sorghum and millet are susceptible to high nitrates, but only sorghum (including forage sorghum, sorghum sudan  and sudangrass) will be at risk of prussic acid. Prussic Acid Prussic acid, or hydrocyanic acid (HCN), forms from dhurrin, a compound that is natu

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