The forages with the highest potential to accumulate nitrates are sorghum, sudangrass, Johnsongrass, corn and pearl millet. The forbs, or flowering, non-grassy plants, that have the greatest possible of accruing nitrates are horsenettle, kochia, pigweeds and lambsquarter. Pictured here is Johnsongrass, a real concern for nitrite poisoning because cattle prefer it over other forages. (Journal photo by Lacey Vilhauer.)

The topic on every farmer or rancher’s mind these days is the dangerous drought of late and the hope for rain in the future. The pastures and ponds are drying up in the High Plains and the vegetation that remains could be a death sentence to livestock that consume it.

Alex Rocateli, Extension specialist for forage systems at Oklahoma State University, said nitrate is the primary nutrient form of nitrogen in most soils; however, extremely dry conditions can turn plants toxic and producers need to be monitoring their pastures and fields.

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