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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
hfr pair on grass

Plan for pasture productivity

Posted by Travis Meteer - Grazing

Pasture management decisions made this fall will affect how your forage performs next spring. Thus, it is important to have a plan to make the best of the situation you have.

Pastures that have been overgrazed need some attention before next grazing season. Pastures that have been grubbed down will result in a reduced stand of the desired forage and open up area for weed invasion. To combat this situation, holes must be filled with vigorous seeds of desirable plants. Red clover fits this need perfectly.

Frost seeding red clover is a great management strategy to fill in voids that may have been created with overgrazing. Overgrazing allows for good soil to seed contact and stunts the grass specie growth in the spring, giving clover a chance to germ and establish itself. Clovers, like all legumes, prefer a nuetral soil pH and do not do well in acidic soils. Thus, it is important to apply limestone in the fall to help bring soil pH up before frost-seeding occurs in the spring.

If your pasture has been annually abused, frost-seeding may not be the fix it needs. Control of weed populations will likely be first and foremost. This may require a herbicide application followed by spot-spraying and mowing. To jumpstart and boost grass production in the spring, an application of nitrogen can be useful in the early spring. This works best if there is a good stand of pasture grasses to utilize the fertilizer. I would not recommend nitrogen fertilizer if you are frost-seeding. The N is used by the grasses and will starve out the immature legumes.

By far the best weed management strategy is implementing a rotational grazing system. By rotating cows and resting the forage, weed production will be starved out by strong stands of grass forage. Consider a rotation of your pastures to avoid overgrazing and allow rest periods.

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