Time nearing to address pastures

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The time is quickly approaching to consider renovation of pastures.
The decision to reseed pastures can be based on multiple reasons, like renovating old stands that are dying out causing bare spots, reducing the number of undesirable weeds and forages, introducing a new forage species, and controlling forage-related disorders.
When deciding what forage species to seed, pasture conditions need to be assessed.  Consider current plant species, amount of bare ground, soil type, location, and season.  The livestock species and their nutrient needs should also be taken into consideration.  In addition, determine the intended use for the pasture in question—grazing, hay, or silage.
When preparing to reseed, always implement good establishment methods.  Be sure to soil test to determine fertilizer and lime needs.  Control competition from existing vegetation and weeds during establishment and be sure to seed at the correct time of year.  Use the recommended seeding rates and depth, and allow an adequate establishment period before harvesting or grazing.
When investing money into new seedings, especially alfalfa for example, it is important to consider the soil type.  Alfalfa and alfalfa-orchardgrass mixes should be planted on deep, well-drained soils that are level to gently sloping.  Annual ryegrass is highly adaptable to a wide variety of soil types and can tolerate abuse.
The NRCS Web Soil Survey website can be used to determine soil type.
Different forages require different management practices and special considerations.  For example, endophyte-free fescue cannot withstand continuous grazing and must be given a rest period.  However, orchardgrass is one of the grasses that can withstand continuous grazing. Use a forage that fits your grazing program to help your operation be successful.
As new stands of cool-season grasses emerge, do not allow animals to graze them immediately.  Overgrazing newly seeded areas is one of the major causes of seeding failures, along with using the wrong seeding depth.  Before a stand reaches maturity, consider only taking the first cutting for hay or using it for light grazing.
When establishing a new stand, it is vital to control weeds.  Weeds can outcompete plants, leading to reduced plant population.  Applying herbicide before establishment is a good management practice.  New seedings may still have weeds present, and another application of herbicide may be necessary later.  During late winter, inter-seeding clover into a stand will help fill bare areas, smothering out weed competition.
When selecting a forage variety, choose one that performs well in Kentucky.  Contact the Extension Office for variety trials of specific forage species.
For more information on renovating pastures, please contact the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service at (502) 732-7030.

Dates of Interest
The Rain Barrel Workshop originally scheduled for July 28 has been postponed and will be rescheduled for early spring 2015.

Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.