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Pasture Grazing And Reseeding Tips


a pasture fenceFor any number of reasons, grass stands can be weakened, especially by overgrazing and heat stress during the summer months. Often the entire plants or the stem tillers (side shoots of grass) are lost which causes weed encroachment and lost production. The fall and late summer time period is ideal for taking a few simple steps to preserve your grass, control weeds and to allow reseeding – as well as to boost productive grazing.

Key Months & Pasture Management Tips For Cool Season Grasses

June through August

  • Anytime during June-August, you can divide into several paddocks to allow rest periods after summer grazing periods. More fencing and watering is required here, but you’ll be amazed at how grass stands can rebound after a drought if not stressed by over-grazing and allowed to grow. Grazed grass during the summer behaves no differently from mowed grass in your lawn: mowing too close and too often stresses the grass stand. A caveat is that allowing sufficient re-growth actually increases your season's grazable yield - in addition to helping save your stand. How long to graze? It always helps to leave a couple of inches of leaf height. (The plant re-grows from starchy reserves in the root and stem as well as from photosynthesis onto the leaf area). During extremely dry periods, you might have to allow 45-60 days between grazing paddocks since during extreme droughts, grass just stops growing. Imagine your animal as a "lawn mower" that manages your grass's height. Remember that summer is the dormant season for cool season grasses yet they can produce even during moderate droughts, if allowed to rest between grazing periods. You may even need to feed supplemental hay – but that's ok since your total forage production will increase from the rested pasture.
  • After August 1st

  • Anytime after August 1, support fall growth of existing grass with N, P and K (generally 40N, 40P205, 80 K20 along with any needed lime to help the existing plants overwinter and to increase healthy tiller density.
  • August or early September

  • Start with a very simple controlled grazing measure. Simply fence off a separate area for grazing to allow the grass to grow ungrazed until November. In this case, only temporary fencing is necessary since you are "stockpiling" fall growth for later grazing during the winter. Your grass loves to grow this time of year: it is making fall tillers, deep roots and grass blades. (By contrast, during late spring and early summer, your grass is trying to produce seed which robs the roots and tiller density). This is also a perfect time to control broadleaf weeds. Dead weeds actually release additional fertilizer nutrients back into the soil!
  • Overseeding Pastures

  • Can you overseed an existing pasture? If your grass is fairly thick, putting down seed alone in the fall isn't likely to result in payback since new seedlings can't compete with existing grass or weeds. A common mistake is to plant desirable grasses into a thick stand of undesirable grass hoping that the good will encroach on the bad. If undesirable grasses are present, the only option is to sacrifice production in a total renovation. However if broadleaf weeds are present, you can kill them selectively with an herbicide and then reseed grass into the voids. You can also spot spray johnsongrass, wiregrass or other undesirables with Roundup if in isolated areas. For seeding, I like some ryegrass in the mix – for equine either our Horse Pasture Mix or Horse Paddock Mix, for example. You can also just add 8 lbs of ryegrass into your seed mix of fescue, orchardgrass, etc. Don't, however, get carried away with the ryegrass since its aggressive seedling growth can choke out the other intended desirable grasses in your mix.

Visit your Southern States professional to decide what fertilizers, lime, herbicides and seed mixes best suit your farm in your locality.

Contact Our Agronomist

David Jessee is an Agronomist for Southern States. He can be reached at david.jessee@sscoop.com. For additional information, contact your local Southern States store or agronomist.


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