ASF Blog

In the first week of November, I received four different calls regarding how to control wild turnip in forages. The situations varied as they were in different forage crops and found in various forage growth stages, but each question dealt with the same weed, wild turnip. Since this weed quickly became an important topic of discussion, I decided that a Timely Information sheet describing the plant, growth habit, seedling and mature characteristics, and toxic properties may be helpful.

Wild turnip is synonymous with Birdsrape mustard, Argentine rape, canola, colza, field mustard, Polish rape, rape, rapeseed, turnip and Brassica napus (L.) Koch.  It is in the Brassicaceae family which also contains wild garlic, wild mustard, and sheperd's purse as well as cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. The plant characteristics section is derived from Weeds of the South 2009.



Habitat and Origin

It is an erect, winter or summer annual herb; to 31.5 in tall; fields, pastures, and waste sites; introduced and cultivated as a commercial crop; native of Europe.

Seedling Characteristics

Cotyledons rounded to heard-shaped; leaves alternate, pubescent

Mature Plant Characteristics

Roots: fibrous from taproot; Stems: 12 - 31.5 in tall,  usually branched at tip, sparsley pubescent; Leaves: alternate, 3 – 12 in long, 1 – 4 in wide; basal and lower leaves pinnately dissected, with 5-11 rounded segments; upper leaves entire to coarsely toothed, clasping, auriculate, progressively smaller apically; Inflorecences: elongate raceme, 4-20 brances; petals 4; 0.5 – 0.8 in wide, obovate, yellow; bud clusters compact, below uppermost florets. Fruits: slender pod, 1.8 – 3.0 in long, ascending, quadrangular, beak flattened. Seeds: round, 0.05 – 0.08 in diameter, smooth; color variable from yellow to yellowish brown, dark brown, or bluish black.

 Special Identifying Features

Erect winter or summer annual; leaves clasping stem; flower yellow; 4-20 floret branches per plant.

Toxic Properties

Two types of sulfur-containing compounds limit the feeding value of these brassica crops which are glucosinolates and an amino acid, S-methylcysteine sulfoxide (SMCO). It is generally believed that the growth performance of  ruminants grazing on brassicas is lower than predicted from their nutrient content due to SMCO.

When ruminants diet consists mainly of brassicas, they may develop a severe hemolytic anemia after 3-4 weeks, which shows Heinz bodies in the first clinical signs. This is the appearance of stainable granules within the red blood cells. In brassica anemia, the hemoglobin level falls from a normal level of about 11 g/100 ml to 8 g or lower. If the animals are removed from the brassica pasture, the hemoglobin levels return to normal in 3-4 weeks and the Heinz bodies disappear. If animals are left on the pasture, surviving animals make a spontaneous but incomplete recovery, followed by cycle of anemia and partial recovery. Other clinical signs include loss of appetite, diarrhea, and jaundice (Cheeke 1998).

The SMCO is a fairly rare aminio acid and is found mainly in brassicas, garlic, and onion which are all weeds with which we try and control during the late fall and early Spring (Benevenga et al. 1989).  Cattle are much more sensitive to brassica-induced anemia than are sheep and goats (Greenhalgh et al. 1969), while non-ruminants are not affected because the SMCO is absorbed in the intestine, anterior to the site of microbial fermentation, the hindgut.

Not only is controlling brassicas early in the season while they are small easier to do, but it is physiologically better in order to decrease the chances of toxicity. The SMCO content of brassicas tends to increase with plant maturity. Through the winter, the toxicity increases. Nitrogen fertilization tends to increase the SMCO content. Forage brassicas have the advantage of plant breeding methods to develop cultivars low in SMCO. However, brassica weeds don't have this option. They will continue to grow from the original populations found in the field if not controlled.


Brassicas, particularly wild radish, but also wild mustard and wild turnip are found throughout Alabama. The best time to control these plants are when they are small and actively growing. If spraying them in the cotyledon up to 4 inches, 2,4-D ester or amine can easily control them. The school of thought is that 2,4-D is better on wild mustard and dicamba is better on wild radish. You can use combination products that contain both 2,4-D and dicamba for effective control of all of the brassicas and still be cost effective. However, this means spraying in the fall, oftentimes when grass is just getting established. Spraying 2,4-D is not a problem in an established pasture or hayfield, but it will cause injury to a newly established field. If a field has just been planted, it is better to wait until the brassica has grown some and the grass has gotten established (usually tillered), prior to making a herbicide application. By the time a grass is established, 2,4-D will not be enough to control the brassica. It will be early Spring before it is established and the Brassicas will be bolting so it will be necessary to use a stronger herbicide such as GrazonNxt, Pastora, Grazon P + D, Chapperell, or some other herbicide that can control annual, biennial, and perennial weeds.


Benevenga, N.J., G. L. case, and R. D. Steele. 1989. The relative feeding value of kale (Brassica oleracea) containing normal and low concentrations of S-methyl-L-cys-teine sulphoxide (SMCO). J. Agric. Sci. 102:635-643.

Bryson, C.T. and DeFelice, M.S., Ed., Weeds of the South. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press. 2009. Print.

Cheeke, P.R., J. S. Powley, H.S. Nakaue, and G. H. Arscott. 1983. Feed preference responses of several avian species fed alfalfa meal, high and low saponin alfalfa, and quinine sulfate. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 63:707-710.

Greenhalgh, J.F.D., G.A.M. Sharman, and J.N. Aitken. 1969. Kale anemia. I. The toxicity to various species of animal of three types of kale. Res. Vet. Sci. 10:64-72.

Timely Information number 15 - Brassicas.docx 

​Drought conditions pose various healthcare and management challenges for horse owners and managers. Conditions associated with drought such as, high temperatures, limited water, and scarce forages, create a harsh environment for horses to thrive in. Fortunately, there are ways to help horses maintain good health despite severe weather. Preparation is key! The following new timely information sheet, " Drought Preparedness for Horse Owners" addresses management strategies and drought preparedness for horse owners in further detail:


Grazing Management During Drought in Tall Fescue Systems - May 2017 - TI Sheet.pdf

This Timely Information sheet provides recommendations on managing tall fescue stands in North Alabama following the 2016 drought.

​There has been an increasing interest in the use of baleage in beef cattle systems in Alabama. This information sheet summarizes the results of a 45-day backgrounding trial using baleage and co-product feeds for pre-conditioning beef calves. 

ACES TI Baleage.pdf

The following species of Verbena are present in Alabama, as documented in the Alabama Plant Atlas (Alabama Herbarium Consortium and The University of West Alabama).



Common name(s)Scientific name
Purple top vervain; South American vervainVerbena bonariensis
Carpent vervain; prostrate vervain; bracted vervainVerbena bracteata
Brazilian vervainVerbena brasiliensis
Gray vervainVerbena canescens
Texas vervainVerbena halei
Blue vervain; Simpler's Joy; Wild HyssopVerbena hastate
Clasping verbenaVerbena incompta
Uruguayan vervainVerbena montevidensis
Euopean vervain; Juno's Tears; Herb of the CrossVerbena officinalis
Stiff verbena; tuberous vervain; rigid verbenaVerbena rigida
Rough vervain; harsh vervain; sandpaper vervainVerbena scabra
Narrowleaf vervainVerbena simplex
Supine vervainVerbena supina
White vervain; nettle leaf vervainVerbena urticifolia
Gulf vervainVerbena xutha




Are there many species of Verbena? Approximately 80 species of Verbena or Vervain occur in the world, while most species are found in the South.


Is verbena an annual or perennial?  Depending on the species of verbena, they can be annual or perennial. For example, Verbena hastata is a perennial while Verbena officinalis is an annual.


What are distinguishing characteristics of Verbena? They have square, hairy stems and grow to a height of 2-4 feet tall. Most species will have a purple inflorescence on a candelabra-like spike that produces flowers from April to September. The leaves are opposite, simple, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate; pinnately lobed, dissected or 3-lobed and pubescent.


How does Verbena reproduce? Perennials spread by rhizomes while annuals reproduce by seed.


What areas is it adaptable?  Verbena prefers moist soil conditions and partial to full sun.  It will grow on roadsides, field borders, wastelands, and pastures.


Is Verbena toxic? There is no information regarding Verbena being toxic to animals.


How do I control Verbena? Verbena may be controlled both mechanically and chemically. Mowing the plants off prior to seedhead formation will reduce stands approximately 75% if the season is dry. Several herbicides are very effective on Verbena if applied when they are less than 5 inches tall including 2,4-D, Weedmaster, Grazon P+D, and GrazonNXT.  If the opportunity is missed to spray small, Verbena plants, then mechanically mowing plants before seedhead production will be the best option.


A PDF version of this timely information sheet is available.


Where can I get additional information? Contact Joyce A. Tredaway at


​Slobber syndrome ("slobbers"), or slaframine toxicosis, is a chemical irritation and mycotoxicosis resulting from the consumption of Rhizoctonia species-infected legumes, in which excessive salivation is the characteristic sign. However, it is important to note that "Sobbers" may also appear in horses from mechanical irritation, which may be caused by other plants with spines, burrs, or sharp awns on the seeds. Please see the attached timely information sheet covering this topic in more depth - Slobbers Timely Info 3.pdf

aceslogo.jpgWEED SCIENCE SERIES 010


Agriculture & Natural Resources


 Facet L herbicide: Frequently Asked Questions

Joyce A. Tredaway, Ph.D., Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, Auburn University


March 27, 2017

What hay species can I use Facet L on? Facet L is labeled for most warm-season and cool- season established grasses grown for pasture and hay. The cool-season grasses that Facet L is labeled on are meadow bromegraass, smooth bromegrass, smooth x meadow bromegrass, European dunegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue, Junegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, needle and thread, green needlegrass, orchardgrass, annual ryegrass, Indian ryegrass, perennial ryegrass, bluebunch wheatgrass,  bluebunch wheatgrass X quack cross, crested wheatgrass, fairway wheatgrass, fairway X crested wheatgrass, intermediate wheatgrass, pubescent wheatgrass, Siberian wheatgrass, slender wheatgrass, tall wheatgrass, thickspike wheatgrass, Western wheatgrass, Altai wildrye, basin wildrye, beardless wildrye, Dahurian wildrye, mammoth wildrye, and Russian wildrye.  The warm season grasses that Facet L is labeled include bermudagrass, big bluestem, little bluestem, sand bluestem, buffalograss, Eastern gammagrass, blue gramma, side-oats gramma, Indiangrass, lovegrass, prairie sandreed, and switchgrass.

What is the recommended application timing? Facet L should be applied early postemergence to small, actively growing weeds and grasses for optimum control.  Allow 7 days after application prior to cutting for hay (may graze immediately) so Facet L may translocate through plants effectively to provide control.

What is the recommended rate?  Facet L has a application rate range of 22 – 32 fl. oz./acre. However, 32 fl. oz. is the primary use rate necessary for consistent performance on tougher to control labeled broadleaf weeds and grasses.

What about sequential applications? Sequential applications may be used, but no more than 64 fl. oz./acre may applied per year.

Do I need to add anything to Facet L to make it work better?  Crop oil concentrate (COC)  at 2 pints/acre or 1 to 2 pints/acre of methylated seed oil (MSO) must be added to Facet L for better uptake and enhanced weed control. A nitrogen fertilizer source such as ammonium sulfate (AMS) or urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) can be added for better uptake and enhanced weed control. Facet L may be tank-mixed with other herbicides labeled for use in pasture unless prohibited by the other herbicide label. The most restrictive label applies to tank mixes ie. adjuvant selection. For instance, when Facet L is tank mixed with other herbicides that restrict the use of oil additives, an 80% active nonionic spray surfactant (NIS) at 1 quart per 100 gallons and a nitrogen fertilizer source (AMS or UAN) must be used. However, this may limit the expected performance. Good moisture conditions and actively growing weeds is particularly necessary for Facet L to achieve the best weed control.

Can I use Faced L on newly established hayfields or pastures?  NO, Facet L is only labeled for established grass pastures.

Will this injure my forage grass like imazepic containing herbicides such as Plateau, Impose or Panoramic? No, it is very safe on forage grasses in which it is labeled.

What are the grazing/haying restrictions for Facet L? There are 0 days grazing and 7 day haying restriction regardless of rate on Facet L. The reason for this restriction is due to weed control since Facet L is a systemic herbicide which needs to translocate through the weeds to provide complete control.

What weeds does Facet L control? Annual grass weeds controlled postemergence (POST) include barnyardgrass, junglerice, large crabgrass, broadleaf signalgrass, annual foxtails (green, giant, yellow). Knotroot foxtail (Setaria parviflora) is a perennial, warm season grass. Currently, the most recommended herbicide treatments only provide suppression, not complete control and pastures show noticeable stunting and discoloration, particularly

with bermudagrass. Facet L, however, has exhibited significant promise for Knotroot foxtail management in trials over the last several years. Additionally, virtually no pasture response has been observed.

The broadleaf weeds that Facet L controls include clovers, prickly lettuce,morningglory species, hemp sesbania and suppresses common and giant ragweed, Russian thistle, dandelion, sowthistle, and Canada thistle. For best result broadleaf weeds and grasses should be 2 inches or less in height at the time of application.

Does Facet L have residual soil activity? Yes, Facet L provides residual control and can be applied PRE before weeds emerge. However, POST applications to weeds are more effective and consistent.

What does Facet L cost? Retail value of Facet L for 32 fl. oz is approximately $25.00.


Where can I find the Facet L label online?


Where can I get additional information? Contact Joyce A. Tredaway at







The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer.


Use.pesticides only according to the directions on the label. The pesticide rates in this publication are recommended only if they are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.  If a registrat ion Is changed or cancelled, the rate listed here is no longer recommended. Before you apply any pesticide, fungicide, or herbicide, check with your county Extension agent for the latest information. Trade names are used only to give specific Information. The Al abama Cooperative Extension System does not endorse or guarantee any product and does not recommend one product instead of another that might be similar.


Alabama counties have experienced increased levels of drought throughout this past summer and fall. To successfully survive drought conditions, producers must develop a plan that considers not only the present, but also the future. Developing a plan to preserve next year's calf crop is a key part of planning for a successful future. This article will explain the nutritional requirements of beef cows for reproduction and explore management strategies to help preserve next year's calf crop in the current drought situation.

Requirements for Reproductive Success:

Beef cows should be managed to calve at a minimum body condition score (BCS) of 5 to ensure that they have adequate flesh to return to cycling and establish pregnancy. BCS allow producers to estimate the fat stores on their cattle and range from 1 to 9, with 1 being extremely emaciated and 9 being extremely obese. Cows of a BCS 5 will have a good overall appearance, with some fat covering over their spine, ribs, hips, and around their tailhead. As BCS drops below 5, bones become less and less covered by fat and become more visible.

Determining your cows' BCS and managing animals to maintain a BCS ≥5 is essential to ensuring reproductive success. BCS and nutritional status at both calving and during the breeding season affect reproductive success, so it is important to know where your cows are in their production cycle and manage them accordingly.  Cows' BCS/nutritional status at calving affects the length of time it takes for them to return to cycling after calving, with cows of low nutritional status at calving taking longer to return to cycling post calving. Once the breeding season is entered, low levels of nutrition and BCS<5 cause reduced pregnancy rates. To survive the drought with next year's calf crop intact, cows must be fed to maintain their BCS.

Cows require different levels of nutrition at different stages of production. Understanding cow nutrient requirements will help producers meet the needs of their cows to maintain a BCS ≥5.

 Reference this timely information sheet to learn more about supplementing beef cows on stored hay.

 Recognize that your cows' needs are the highest in early lactation. This is the time period when we also need cows to return to cycling and become pregnant. Corners should not be cut during this important time period. Furthermore, note that it's easiest to put weight on cows after weaning. If you currently have thin, dry, pregnant cows it is a good idea to use this time to allow them to gain weight necessary to increase their BCS to 5. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to gain 1 BCS with each 80 lbs of weight gain in mature beef cows.

Pregnancy examination is essential in all years, but is extremely important this winter as we continue or recover from drought. If cows have not been examined for pregnancy, consider having a veterinarian palpate your cows and cull open cows that have weaning age calves. This will allow for added income and less mouths to feed through the winter and early spring.  As you complete this year's breeding season, pregnancy check your cows. Since resources were limited, there is a chance that BCS dropped too low and more cows than usual may be open at the end of the breeding season. It is essential to identify and cull these individuals.


Additional Strategies in Times of Extreme Drought:

  1. Pay attention to your heifers- 2-year-old heifers nursing their first calves have higher nutritional needs than their mature counterparts since they are still growing. Furthermore, they are often bucked away from feed sources by older animals. It is a good idea to always manage heifers away from the mature cowherd, however in years of drought and limited feedstuffs it may be essential to allowing them to consume the necessary amount of hay/supplement to maintain their BCS for reproductive success.
  2. Consider early weaning of calves- if cows go into calving thin or become extremely poor while nursing young calves, it may be necessary to wean calves early to allow cows to regain the condition needed for reproduction. Calves 90 days and older can be successfully weaned onto free choice long stemmed hay with correct supplementation. Removing calves may help "jump start" cows to return to cycling and will lessen cows' nutrient requirements so weight can be gained.

By taking care to manage cattle to nutritional levels necessary for pregnancy success, a producer can preserve next year's calf crop through drought situations.               

​As Alabama continues to experience drought conditions across the state, many cattle producers are thinking about how they can economically feed cattle through the winter months. With limited rainfall, forage production potential is low, which means most producers will rely on stored forage and supplement to meet the nutritional needs of the herd. Initial hay reserves left over from the 2015 season have now been exhausted, and most are feeding this year's crop. Limited rainfall over the spring and summer months in 2016 reduced the number of hay harvests this year. In the best cases, some producers averaged three to four cuttings. However, those in areas of extreme drought may have only been able to harvest one or two cuttings at best. Strategies for managing the nutritional needs for cattle now are going to be based off of these supplies and require some forward thinking into projected conditions for spring 2017. 

Three Things Producers Can Do Today

  1. Estimate the amount of hay available and how many days of feeding this will provide - A good rule of thumb is that a mature cow will consume between 2.0 to 2.5% of her body weight per day in dry matter. This is roughly about how much hay needs to be provided per day per head.
  2. Conduct a forage analysis to determine quality - A forage analysis can provided needed information about the nutritional value of the forage (specifically, energy, protein, and mineral composition). Visit with your Animal Science and Forage regional extension agent about the results to determine if supplementation is needed to help cattle maintain good body condition this winter.
  3. Feed hay in a sacrifice paddock - While it might be tempting to leave the gate open and let cattle graze any remaining stubble in the pasture, this can negatively impact stand health and the potential for recovery once the rain returns. Consider keeping cattle in more of a drylot situation, also known as a sacrific paddock, to minimize damage across the farm. 

Three Things Producers Must Consider Now for Later

  1. Be prepared to address a spring forage production gap - The effects of this year's drought will impact forage production in spring 2017 as perennial grass pastures break dormancy. Depending on the amount of rainfall received this winter, it is likely that there will be both delayed and reduced forage production in March and April, a time where many producers count on the ability to get out of the window for hay feeding. This is because these plants experienced stress both from extreme grazing pressure and lack of water for regrowth in the previous management season. Cattle producers must be prepared to meet the nutritional needs of cattle during this window when forage production may be lacking.
  2. Locate alternative roughages now - If you project that you will run out of hay, now is the time to locate alternative roughage sources. Because many of these byproducts are seasonal in nature (a result of recent row crop harvests), there is a limited supply of these resources and local availability is currently at its peak. More information on alternative feeds can be found in our Timely Information sheet on alternative feeding strategies for beef cattle during drought. 
  3. Be prepared to address some hard questions. - The cost of feeding hay and supplement through the winter is a significant input cost. In a time of depressed cattle markets, consider if the cost benefit of carrying animals through the winter is worth the potential return. Watch the body condition of the herd closely throughout the winter. Develop a culling strategy and be prepared to implement it now and later. 

As Alabama continues with below average rainfall and above average temperatures, the drought is taking its toll on the pastures and hayfields. In drought situations, animals will eat plants that they normally probably wouldn't because of the lack of forage availability. This leads to many animals eating toxic plants that are normally not eaten by them, although they have always been present in the field.  Toxic plants may be found in fields, in shade areas, or on fence lines, and although not normally palatable, animals eat them for survival. Unfortunately, toxic plants contain nitrates, cyanide, tannins, and certain alkaloids and glycoalkaolids that when eaten, can cause neurological, physiological, and even death.  

 Spiny Amaranth 2.jpg       Some common toxic plants that are present in Alabama include perilla mint, jimsonweed, pigweed, ragweed, pine trees (tannin in the needles), nightshades, groundcherry, johnsongrass, goldenrod, Canada thistle, corn, wheat, oats, sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass, brackenfern, mountain laurel, oaks, poison hemlock, pokeweed, crotalaria, and wild cherry.  This is only a partial list of the toxic plants that are present in Alabama but are very common. 

        The age-old question of "why are my forages dying but my weeds are healthy and surviving?"  is becoming more and more prevalent as the drought continues. Weeds, unlike improved forages, have the ability to adapt to droughty conditions. They have the ability to keep water inside and maintain it, close off their stomates so that no water escapes, grow longer roots to find water, and even change their leaves so that they will keep more water. Unfortunately, improved plants that have been bred for different characteristics don't have this innate ability.  Therefore, that is why your forages are dying while your weeds are still alive.

        The question is how do I control these weeds in a drought? Since stomates must be open for a plant to "take in" a herbicide, and in a drought, stomates are closed, herbicide applications for these plants are not advised. Until there are several rains and the drought is lifted is only when a herbicide application would be advised. The only practice that is recommended is to mow selectively the toxic plants (not the forage), making sure to get all of the seed head, which is often the most toxic.  If the high temperatures continue, a frost will be delayed however, if normal temperatures start to occur, a frost can help to kill your toxic plants and aid in the control of some of them.  However, a frost can also cause nitrate levels to increase in plants, which may cause more toxicity to occur.  


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