FARMERS URGED TO TEST FREEZE-DAMAGED WHEAT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama's wheat farmers who are considering using their freeze-damaged wheat crop as feed for cattle are being warned that the crop could have dangerous levels of nitrate and should be tested before use as a forage.
Ron Sparks, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Industries, has offered the services of the department's toxicology labs to assist in this effort without charge.
Producers are urged to complete a submission form available from all Extension System offices. The form is for farm location and contact information.
Samples should be sent, along with the submission form, to the old diagnostic lab address -- Gilmer-Turnham Building, 1001 Wire Rd., Auburn, AL 36881-0369 -- for processing. The samples will then be transported to the Toxicology lab for nitrate analysis. For sampling collection procedures, contact Dr. Don Ball at (334) 844-5491 or your Extension office.
For questions or more information, call Lance Hester, division director, at (334) 240-7186 or Dr. Tony Frazier, state veterinarian, at (334) 240-7253.
When an animal consumes forages high in nitrates, excess nitrite is absorbed into the blood and converts hemoglobin into methemoglobin, restricting the blood's ability to transport oxygen to cells.
Animals suffering from nitrate toxicity will exhibit muscle tremors, incoordination and diarrhea. Blood will turn chocolate brown rather than the normal bright red. If symptoms are observed, contact your veterinarian, move the animals to an alternative forage source, and offer grain supplement to speed utilization of the excessive nitrate.