Page 7 - MWC 8-11-2022s
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Johnsongrass: Friend or Foe?                                                                The Midwest Cattleman · August 11, 2022 · P7

      By Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, OSU Extension
         Johnsongrass is easy to  ranean as a forage crop and  bicides in pastures and hay- seeds and rhizomes, it is not
      find in the entire region. It  then dispersed in an attempt  fields that are predominately  tolerant of close grazing or
      is a warm-season grass that  to fight erosion in floodplains,  grass swards.  There are a  mowing.
      is related to corn. Unlike it’s  which it can do effectively,  greater range of options for                Continually using animals
      relatives- corn, sorghum, and  but the problem is the ability  effective herbicide use in le- to graze down johnsongrass
      sorghum-sudangrass, which  it has to swallow up habitat  gume systems, which I will  or defoliating it with ma-
      are annual species commonly  for native plants that rely on  not elaborate on in this ar- chinery can prevent the de-
      used for agronomic purposes,  those environments to per- ticle. The best news for pas- velopment of seedheads and
      johnsongrass is a perennial  sist.                                    ture and hayfield managers  weaken the root system over
      that has naturalized itself in        Because johnsongrass is  regarding this weed is that  time, while also providing a
      our environment. Johnson- a grass, it can be very chal- although johnsongrass is ag- source of feed for livestock,
      grass begins actively grow- lenging to control with her- gressive and spreads both by  with the exception of equine
      ing when soil temperatures                                                                              animals. Horses should not
      reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit.                                                                            be introduced to areas where
         Whether we classify john-                                                                            they would have the opportu-
      songrass  as  a  weed or  as  a                                                                         nity to graze johnsongrass or
      forage could be debated, but                                                                            other sorghum type forages
      it is formally listed as a nox-                                                                         due to the risk of developing
      ious  weed in  several states                                                                           equine cystitis.
      and therefore the debate is                                                                                Alas, there are also other
      resolved. Johnsongrass is a                                                                             concerns with grazing john-
      non-native, aggressive, nat-                                                                            songrass which stem from
      uralized weed that does pro-                                                                            how the plant responds to
      vide some value as a forage,                                                                            environmental stress. Like
      but by no means should be                                                                               other members of the sor-
      purposefully planted or prop-                                                                           ghum family, johnsongrass
      agated due to the threats it                                                                            can cause  nitrate or  prus-
      poses to our native species                                                                             sic acid toxicity if plants are
      and     agronomic      cropping                                                                         overfertilized with nitrogen,
      systems. It  was initially  in-
      troduced  from  the  Mediter-                                                                                         continued on page 19

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