Row crop producers interested in baling peanuts and ratoon corn to use as hay are being urged by Mississippi State University experts to be aware of chemical residues.

Rocky Lemus, forage specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said peanut hay is not labeled for animal consumption because of residual herbicides and pesticides that are not approved for forage production.

“Producers bailing corn need to be concerned about possible nitrate toxicity,” Lemus said. “We have received very little rain in the last three weeks, and those corn plants could be stressed, increasing the potential for nitrate accumulation.”

Nitrate concentration is highest in the lower part of the corn stalk or stem. Leaves, tassels and the upper stalk contain concentrations usually within safe levels for feeding, Lemus said.

“If drought-stressed corn is to be cut for cattle feed, and nitrate levels are known to be high, leave the bottom third of the stalk in the field, about 8 to 10 inches,” he said.

Lemus recommended producers test the harvested hay for nitrate levels before selling or feeding it, with samples taken from more than one bale.

Extension publication 2539, “Hay Testing and Understanding Forage Quality,” is available at http://msucares.com/pubs/. Information on forage-related disorders can be found at http://msucares.com/crops/forages/newsletters/09/11.pdfor contact Rocky Lemus at (662) 325-7718.