Recover Drought-Stressed Pastures

Dow Argo SciencesINDIANAPOLIS – (February 19, 2007 – AgNewsWire) – Severe drought hit big parts of cattle country last year, but weather patterns may have turned. Many dried-up pastures are now getting significant winter moisture. That typically means a spring invasion of broadleaf weeds into grass, says Dr. Vernon Langston, a field research scientist with Dow AgroSciences.
“After a drought, grasses tend to be weaker and not very competitive. Some plants may have died, so you have thinner stands and more bare spots. With a little moisture, it’s easy for weeds to germinate. Usually, the weed seed is already there in the soil, but, you may have gotten a new supply with hay that you bought.”
Grazing may help in some situations, but not all, Langston says. For effective control, identify your weeds, choose an appropriate herbicide, and time the application to best accomplish the goal. Prescriptions will vary.
With more bare ground in a pasture, weeds will have more time to germinate because they’re not shaded out by grass. Herbicides with soil residual activity can help in that situation, Langston says.
“At appropriate labeled rates, residual products will control weeds that are up, plus they also remain active in the soil to control many weeds that germinate for a period of time after spraying. Not all pasture herbicides offer residual activity. Grazon® P+D herbicide is a commonly used product that does, as well as new ForeFront(TM) R&P and Milestone(TM) herbicides.”
Beyond weed control, native grasses need to be left ungrazed for a time to fully recover, Langston says. That rest needs to be during the growing season. When you do restock native pastures, stock lightly and build numbers slowly.
For improved pastures like fescue and bermudagrass, take a soil test and follow the recommendations. Proper soil pH and fertility will be important to their recovery, Langston says. That, and a little tender loving care, will help pastures bounce back faster to full production.

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