Growers and producers need to take extra care to test corn they feed their livestock to ensure that nitrate levels aren't high enough to sicken or kill the animal, says Bruce Clevenger, an Extension educator and a member of Ohio State's Agronomic Crops Team.
"It's important that farmers take steps to make sure drought-stressed forage is safe to eat," he says. "Drought-stressed corn has the potential for elevated levels of nitrate in the stalks."
Nitrate poisoning is a real concern for livestock production right now because of the ongoing drought conditions impacting growers statewide, Clevenger says.
This is a significant concern for growers and producers, considering most of Ohio except for some counties near the Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders is experiencing moderate drought, with some counties near the Indiana and Michigan borders experiencing severe and extreme drought as of Aug. 7, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor.
In fact, this summer so far is on track to be one of the top five warmest summers on record statewide and in much of the Corn Belt, according to Jim Noel of the National Weather Service.
Noel, whose weather updates are featured in the OSU Agronomics Crop Team's weekly C.O.R.N. (Crop Observation and Recommendation Network) Newsletter, said Stress Degree Days (SDD) for corn continue to track like the drought years of 1988 and 1934 with the SDDs total in Ohio at 304 through Aug. 5.