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Invasive Weed Causing Hay Headache

19 June 2014

US – Mild spring weather in parts of the US has led to a proliferation of crossleaf groundsel, Ohio farmers are being warned.

Grass growth commenced around two weeks earlier than normal, providing a ‘major issue’ for hay growers, according to Ohio State University weed expert, Mark Loux.

Poisonous to cows and horses - and to a lesser extent sheep - the weed (Senecio glabellus) is classed as ‘noxious’ in the state of Ohio.

Also known as Butter weed and yellow/golden ragwort, it is a winter annual, with autumn the best time for control. 

“Nearly all species of Senecio are considered potentially toxic plants because they contain compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs),” said Mr Loux.

“These are metabolized in the liver to other compounds that are toxic, primarily to the liver cells.”

Fortunately, he added that the plant is not hugely palatable to grazing livestock.

Hay growers should note that the Pas are not destroyed as grass turns to hay, only reduced in concentration.

In some areas, sheep have been used to control Crossleaf groundsel, although Mr Loux warns that enough can still kill them.

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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