August is typically hot and dry in my neck of the woods, and grasslands respond to the heat by turning brown and brittle. It’s rare for us to have extra grass at this point in the summer grazing season, but if you’re one of the fortunate ones who do have some extra grass, here are some management practices that could improve your forage base for next year’s grazing season.
Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension forage specialist, offers three tips to improve your grasslands today in order to boost carrying capacity and get ahead for next year.
1. Identify potential pasture improvements.
“Start by identifying pasture improvements that could help future grazing,” Anderson says. “Control weeds, accumulate enough growth on warm-season grass pastures to conduct an effective prescribed burn next spring, or select pastures where stressing the existing stand will help you establish legumes next spring. All these practices temporarily reduce pasture growth, but they can provide long-term benefits. Thus, it is better to do them when you have extra grass rather than when grass is short.”
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2. Avoid overgrazing this fall.
“Another way to help next year's growth is to avoid overgrazing this fall unless you are doing it intentionally to prepare for interseeding next spring,” advises Anderson. “Heavy fall grazing weakens plants as they go into winter and causes them to grow less vigorously after spring green-up. If you do graze heavy this fall, do it on pastures that will be used last next spring. This will give them extra time to recover.”
3. Stockpile growth now.
“A particularly valuable way to manage extra grass is to begin to stockpile some growth now for either grazing this winter or to start grazing extra early next spring,” he recommends. “This could save on winter hay needs or give you an area to get animals away from mud next spring. Plus, it's usually good for your grass, too. Take advantage of extra grass to begin long-term pasture improvements. It happens so rarely that next year might be too late.”
How are your summer grasses looking right now? Are you taking steps to ensure next year’s pastures? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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