Row-crop producers interested in baling peanuts or corn to use as hay should be aware of chemical residues and other potential problems, says Rocky Lemus, Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension forage specialist.

Peanut hay is not labeled for animal consumption because of residual pesticides that are not approved for forage production, he says.

“Producers baling corn need to be concerned about possible nitrate toxicity. 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 cornstalk. Leaves, tassels and the upper stalk contain concentrations usually within safe levels for feeding, he says.

“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 8-10”.

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

For more information, read Hay Testing and Understanding Forage Quality andForage Related Disorders in Livestock Production.