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Someone on here has to know this.

I always thought/heard that spring grasses that grow when it is cooler have more sugar in them in the morning and it dissipates later in the day.

Recently on different forums people have been saying the opposite.
Anyone have good info on this?

This is important as to relating problems with founder in equines

Billy Foster says 2017-05-24 11:14:45 (CST)

Sugar is highest in the grazed plant in the latter part of the sunny day due to the sugars produced during photosynthesis. At night some of those sugars are consumed by the plant due to respiration resulting in the grass having a lower sugar content in the morning.
There is some debate as to the impact of sugar content in the dried hay if cut in the morning or afternoon. The reasoning that afternoon hay could be lower in sugar is that the cut grass continues to respire, even though it is cut.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2017-05-24 20:25:50 (CST)

Sounds like Billy gave a lot of information. I have been told for years to always cut hay between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm for the highest sugar content.
I don't always get it done this way, but I do try.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Barb Lee says 2017-06-06 09:54:20 (CST)

From Katy Watts,

Here is a list of the danger signs to look for.

"If it’s below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the enzymes that help the plant grow don’t function anymore,” says Kathryn Watts, an internationally respected consultant and researcher specializing in pasture grass and horses and ponies prone to laminitis. She is based in Colorado and maintains a website at "However, photosynthesis [which creates sugar] happens as long as the sun is shining, provided that the plant is not frozen solid.”

Concentrations of NSCs can double or even triple if these conditions (sunny and below 40 degrees) continue for several weeks. Since this commonly happens during spring and fall in many parts of the country, these seasons are often associated with grass founder.

TIP: A useful tool that you can find at any hardware store is a min-max thermometer. Put it on the back porch and check it every morning. If it’s been below 40 degrees that night, start paying careful attention to any high-risk horses. After a few nights below 40, any horse that’s had laminitis in the past or has the body type that says "founder waiting to happen” should probably be removed from pasture entirely and fed hay that’s tested for low sugar content (see "Testing Sugar Content,” below).

Lack of fertilizer:
"Another thing that can limit plant growth is lack of fertilizer—usually nitrogen,” says Watts. "The plant might have enough sugar, but if it doesn’t have enough nitrogen to put that sugar to work and grow, the sugar starts piling up. I use the analogy of an assembly line: If the plant does not have all of the elements it needs to grow, the line shuts down and the other raw materials pile up.”

Since a lack of nitrogen can limit grass growth, it’s important to have the right fertilization schedule for your region. "Approach your extension agent or fertilizer dealer and tell them you’re looking for a moderate fertility level, not maximum production,” Watts advises.

Drought is another form of stress that will result in sugars piling up within the plant. "For example, in Texas, founder season happens when it’s very sunny and very hot,” says Watts. Drought may also cause fructan in cool-season grasses to turn to sugar, increasing chances of metabolically driven laminitis.

Mature grass:
When managing pastures, it’s important to mow or top the grass before seed heads appear. "Sugars and starch are very concentrated in the developing seed heads,” says Watts. "Many horses selectively graze them off; it’s like horse candy.”

Most pastures are filled with weeds that horses are more than happy to consume. "Some of the weeds in your pasture have the potential to contain more sugar than the grass,” says Watts. "The ones that I have tested personally that are really high in NSCs include dandelion, plantain and thistle.”

You can treat pastures with an herbicide to kill broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, which are particularly palatable to horses. Often this is enough to decrease the incidence of founder.

A thick, healthy stand of grass is the best defense against invasion of weeds and clover. While proper fertilization can decrease sugar concentration per mouthful of grass, there may now be more sugar per acre. When grass is more plentiful in previously overgrazed pastures, you may need to start limiting intake with a muzzle or decreased time at pasture.

It’s important to note that weeds may grow around dry lots where horses and ponies are housed to keep them off pasture. If those weeds are within reach of desperate flapping lips, the risk of founder is still there. You may very well save your horse from foundering just by running a weed-whacker around the dry loKaty Watts, www.safergrass.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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