UGA Extension – Franklin County

What to do with my Pastures Now

With so much uncertainty with the weather this year, one of the questions that I have been getting a lot is what can I do now? Some people are asking is it too late to plant fescue and the answer is yes. Others want to look into reestablishing their bermuda grass pastures, although spring is the right time, if we believe the long term forecast, that may not be the best use of our funds. We are still in a drought even though we have had some good rains over the past few weeks; we still need a lot more rain to get our water levels back to where they need to be. Over the past few months I have done a lot of farm visits to see pastures and one thing that I have seen is that not all of our pastures are as bad as we think. Some of them are a total loss and they will need to be reseeded at the appropriate time, but some of our pastures just need some time to bounce back. We may see a reduced stand in pastures and hay fields but that is better than no forages at all. So what to do now, fist off in the situation that we are in weed control is key. Weeds will take over and smother out any of the good grasses left in our pastures, so now is a good time to make sure that we are being proactive in controlling weeds. After we get the weeds under control what to do next your cows still need something to eat, so in a year like this it’s a good time to utilize summer annuals for a forage crop, whether for hay fields or for grazing. That will also help to keep control over weeds particularly in areas where the perennial grasses have a reduced stand. By doing this you will be able to get the forages that you need for summer grazing, if the weather allows for that, without the investment of perineal grass establishment. You will then come in with your winter grazing this fall to help reduce hay use during the winter months, this will also help to reduce the presence of weeds in the next spring. This is not the answer that many people are looking for, they want a “one and done” establishment. The issue with trying to reestablish our pastures that way this year is the lack of moisture, we have had some good rains over the past few weeks but we are still a long way from where we need to be in terms of total rainfall. For questions on this or other issues please call the UGA Extension Office in Franklin County.