Winter pasture in southern Oklahoma and North Texas is coming on later than usual, and Noble Foundation pasture and range specialist James Rogers estimates that fall grazing is going to be a third of what it normally is.

“There’s still potential to have good spring grazing, though, because stands look good and aside from a few pockets along the Red River, we didn’t have a problem with armyworms,” he says. “We’ll still face potential disease pressures and insects like green bugs and aphids.”

Even though stands look pretty good, Rogers adds, only a small percentage are ready for cattle.

“I’ve seen some stands only two to three weeks old. Some people waited on the rain, which made it later, and I’ve heard reports in other areas about winter pasture replants, where folks dusted-in in September and then had to replant.”

As far as alternatives to winter pasture, cattle producers are facing a tough hay shortage and may need alternative feedstuffs or different grazing management options like limit grazing.

“Limit grazing may stretch forage resources for some, but there is so much labor involved in running cattle out and bringing them back. You also won’t get the gains you would with normal winter pasture — they are kind of up and down.

On the up side, ryegrass is plentiful and looking good. Winter brome and singletary pea are coming on in pastures where bermudagrass is normally stockpiled but wasn’t this year.

“Ryegrass could be help some people this spring,” Rogers says.

Unfortunately, Rogers believes the overall situation going into 2007 is worse than it was going into 2006.

“It’s really sad, but looking at the whole picture, there aren’t a whole lot of good things to say about the outlook for 2007, because in 2006, pastures got hammered, people didn’t de-stock like they should have, and the soil profile is short on moisture.