Q. Should I fertilize my fruit trees now so they have nutrients in the spring?
A. Studies in our area have shown that late-season fertility regimes on fruit trees can stimulate growth and delay a tree’s dormancy. This can cause the tree to be less cold hardy, which means there is a greater chance of damage if cold weather occurs in the fall. In addition, they have seen that the expected available nutrients in the soil come spring are greatly diminished, especially in sandy soils. Wait until February or March.
Q. I have access to some Sudan grass pasture for grazing my cows this fall. I’ve heard it can be toxic. Should I be concerned?
A. Special care must be taken when considering grazing Sudan grass, which can accumulate significant amounts of prussic acid. The result, if levels are too high, is essentially cyanide poisoning. The potential for prussic acid poisoning is greatly increased after a frost. Plants under stress from drought or other conditions that can inhibit regrowth can concentrate prussic acid in leaves that have been unable to mature. Grazing new regrowth can be problematic because young growth can contain higher levels of prussic acid. Grazing should only be considered after a forage test for prussic acid is conducted by a certified testing laboratory. Sudan grass should not be grazed in an immature state. Allow forage to attain a height of 15 to 18 inches before grazing. And make sure the cattle have other feed such as hay so they are not hungry before they enter the pasture. Chopping, haying, or ensiling, can reduce the level of prussic acid in the forage. However, laboratory testing will be required to confirm that the levels are safe for feeding.
Q. What is the history of alfalfa? Where did it come from?
A. Alfalfa, or Lucerne as it is sometimes called, is considered queen of the forage feeds because of its importance. Alfalfa is believed to be native to Iran. It was first introduced to the United States in Georgia back in 1736, then in California in 1850. Alfalfa is grown on more than 80 million acres in the world, and 21.7 million in the U.S. The northcentral and western region of the United States grows more alfalfa than others.
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