What is in this article?:
- Renovating forages in drought requires sound management
- Weed issues
- Variety selection
- Ranchers should be prepared to renovate pastures, hay fields and meadows.
- Two years of devastating drought and, in some cases, over-grazing or aggressive haying took a toll.
- Weeds also pose problems for drought-stressed forage production.
WEEDS have had a good opportunity to establish in pastures and hay meadows following two years of drought stress.
Variety selection can be a crucial decision. Bermudagrass, for instance, is well-adapted to well-drained soils, tolerates close grazing and is drought tolerant—if managed properly. It comes in both vegetative and seeded types. Tifton 85, a hybrid with high nutritional value, is a good option but requires sprigging for establishment. It also requires a sound fertility program to maintain stands. Overseeding may be a problem with the tight sod.
Corriher-Olson said seeded varieties are numerous “with a lot of blends. Pay attention to the blends if you don’t want common bermudagrass on your property.”
Producers who opt to replant forage should kill all vegetation before re-establishing the stand. “No competition should be available. Plow or disk the soil to prepare a good seedbed. Incorporate lime, phosphorus and potassium. Fertilize with nitrogen only after the plants have emerged.”
Proper seed depth is essential for seeded forage as is using proper seeding equipment.
Most areas will need moisture before seeding. “Also, control weeds before establishment and later.”
Before grazing, producers should assure a vigorous stand, which could take a year or more to establish. “Manage new growth properly and control grazing and haying.”
Some producers may choose to “thicken a stand.” That, too, begins with a soil test. Growers may plant bermudagrass into a thin stand and fertilize according to soil test results. “Control weeds.”
She warned that some producers may not want to mix bermudagrass seed into hybrid stands.
Renovation might not require reseeding, she notes. “It could be just improving management or allowing the stand to rest and recover.”
Improved management would include weed control, soil testing and adjusting fertility. “Well managed forage is fertilized and stocked appropriately. It’s also not grazed or hayed too sort beyond September,” Corriher-Olson said.