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Feeding Flowering Brassicas
Forage Brassicas sown in 2018, such as Forage Rape, increased fourfold in acreage versus the previous year. While on the whole, these crops provided welcome and much needed forage over the winter months, some still remain and we can now see flowers beginning to emerge. We have had a number of queries on flowering brassicas and below are the facts involved:
Cause of flowering: Some species of brassica are biennials; which means the plant takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle. Translated on farm, such crops that were sown in summer or autumn and left ungrazed, will flower the following spring season. Early sown brassicas or those exposed to prolonged period of cold, can also vernalise; resulting in such brassica’s flowering in a shortened period of time of approximately 10-12 weeks.
The plant is most toxic when in flower.
Effect of feeding flowering brassicas: Respiratory difficulties with coughing, nasal discharge and congestion of the mucous membranes can be experience. Dark coloured urine, occasional photosensitization with desquamation of the skin and epidermal sloughing, jaundice and haemoglobinuria are also symptoms that can be observed in animals.
Treatment: Remove stock and seek veterinary advice immediately.
Prevention: Do not feed brassicas that have flowered. The crop can be utilised as a green manure conditioning crop, but care must be taken to prevent seed shed and contamination in the next crop.