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Bartels: Spring green-up starting across his western Ohio county
Ohio Farm News
By Steve Bartels

Winter wheat has begun to green now that we have had a few days when highs were in the 50s. Wheat looks good as you drive around the county. There is a spot here or there in a field where the plants may look brown to yellow from winter burn but they are few.

When you examine these plants, the crowns are healthy and white. Some of the leaves are brown or purple but there is no need to be concerned when the roots and crowns are white and not brown. I think these areas may not have been covered with snow when we had quick temperature changes in December and the lows came in near 0 degrees F. It looks like these spots are beginning to recover.

Our pastures will also be greening up soon. When grass is growing rapidly, is lush and full of water, we need to be concerned about grass tetany. The only way to prevent it is to supplement the animals with magnesium.

Tetany is common in lactating cows, grazing lush pastures, when temperatures and soils are cool and wet. Plants will not contain adequate levels of phosphorus or magnesium.

Fertilizing pastures with nitrogen and potassium may increase the incidence of grass tetany. It is best to delay the application of the majority of your nitrogen and potassium until temperatures have warmed and the first flush of grass has passed.

Proper pH is the most important factor in crop management. If the soil test calls for lime, use a dolomitic source, high in magnesium. Maintain relatively high levels of phosphorus in the soils since some research has shown that the addition of phosphorus can increase tissue magnesium levels.

Cattle depend on frequent ingestion of magnesium from feed since mobilization from the bone is not very efficient. Magnesium absorption has been improved by feeding grains.

Legumes are usually higher in magnesium than are grasses. Magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate are good sources of supplemental magnesium.

You can doctor up your trace mineralized salt by adding 20 to 25 percent magnesium oxide, 25 percent dicalcium phosphate and 10 percent dried molasses, ground corn, or soybean meal. Each animal needs to consume four ounces of this mix each day for adequate magnesium.

This farm news was published in the March 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.