Pasture Management: Tips On Having A Green Pasture
Emerald green pastures create an undeniable sense of peace and well-being. But, for horse lovers, summer’s excessive heat and dry conditions can make keeping your horse pastures green challenging and stressful. “With the heavy summer heat and dry conditions we experience, evaluating your pasture for overseeding (planting on an existing pasture) and fertilizer is critical,” said Southern States pasture expert Phil Howard. “Now is the time to maximize your forages for the coming winter and spring. You’ll have less protein value in your hay or pasture if you don’t.” Proteins help all living cells form. For horses, protein strengthens their skeleton, skin, hair, muscle, connective tissue and nervous system; all critical parts of well-rounded horse nutrition.
Remember that your pasture is not only your horses' living quarters, it's their pantry and kitchen all rolled into one. Whether you have a small or large pasture, one thing is certain: you need to begin preparing now to establish a pasture that will help your animals and save you money for months to come.
Keeping A Healthy Horse Pasture
During the summer, evaluate the weed pressure that you have in your permanent pastures and apply a horse-friendly herbicide to control these unwanted weeds. Your local Southern States dealer can advise you on horse-friendly herbicides for your geographic area.
Fall Pasture Seeding
Apply Nitrogen 60-80 pounds per acre (August 1 in the mountains and between August 7 and September 1 elsewhere) for fall grazing. Sample soils and apply lime on fields to be planted in the fall. Apply lime to pastures with pH below 5.8. Remember, the best time to plant cool season grasses and clovers is August 25 to September 15. Watch for fall insects (armyworms, grasshoppers, crickets) on established and seedling stands of forage. Keep the grazing pressure on the summer grasses and completely use them before grazing cool-season forages.
If you plan to winter your animals on pasture, seeding and fertilizing should be done in September. Overseed bermuda grass for winter grazing with ryegrass. Cool-season forage species such as orchardgrass, timothy, ryegrass, fescue and clover need time to establish a stand and develop a strong root system. Plant fescue and orchardgrass between August 25 and October 25. On average, it takes 45 to 55 days before they are ready to graze.
Local/Regional Advice On Pasture Management
Southern States has regional agronomists and local GrowMaster professionals available to help with one-on-one consults on everything from soil samples to pasture fertilizer to grass seed selection to environmental concerns. In addition, workshops are held throughout the year to help horse owners. Southern States also produce a free Horse Pasture Guide. For more information, contact your local Southern States retailer.