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Spring Pasture Maintenance Guide


Growing healthy, beautiful pastures is a year-round project, according to Southern States Marketing Manager for Agronomy Kevin Headley. Headley puts it all in perspective with the following month-by-month listing of "what to do when," January through May. See your Southern States dealer for seed, fertilizer and various equipment for planting and maintaining pastures.

January

  • Lime may be applied
  • Determine animal feed requirements for the year and outline a 12-month Forage Production and Use Plan to meet the needs.
  • Winter annuals, such as ryegrass, should be grazed from 6-8 inches back to 3-4 inches.
  • Alfalfa growth should be grazed off to reduce weevil populations and provide high quality feed.
  • Winter weeds in alfalfa should be treated while they are small.
  • Fescue can be grazed down to 1-2 inches this time of year without hurting spring regrowth.

February

  • Apply Nitrogen to cool-season grasses to stimulate early spring growth. Phosphorus and Potassium may be applied in February or later (first Nitrogen application in March).
  • Overseed legumes (Ladino) into well-grazed (2 inches or less), well-limed grass pastures.
  • Lime fields that will be prepared for spring plantings.
  • Best dates to reseed are February 15 to March 31 and then August 25 to September 15.

March

  • Send off a soil sample, if not done already.
  • Overseed legumes 3 to 4 pounds per acre, drilled, or 4 to 5 pounds per acre, broadcasted.
  • Apply Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium to the cool-season grasses to increase spring production.
  • Begin grazing of fall-planted fescue, orchardgrass, and clover when growth reaches about 6 inches.

April

  • Apply 60-80 pounds Nitrogen when bermudagrass begins active growth.
  • Graze winter annual pastures to use all of the forage and retain quality by preventing excessive seedhead formation.
  • If no more than 150 pounds Nitrogen is used on cool season grasses, make second application of 50 to 70 pounds per acre early in the month.

May

  • Plant warm-season grasses (bermudagrass).
  • Plant summer annuals (pearl millets) at two-week intervals to stagger the forage availability.
  • Fertilize warm-season grasses with Nitrogen after each cutting or every 4-6 weeks on pastures.
  • Spray pasture weeds while they are small (3 inches) for most effective control.
  • Do not apply Nitrogen to fescue or orchardgrass pastures after April, until August.

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