Fall Pasture Maintenance
Between the never-ending battle against weeds, woody encroachment, and the onslaught of armyworms, this fall is time for some dedicated field maintenance. Or if you’re thinking about planting next spring, now is a good time to prep those areas.
As the grasses and forbs are going to seed, try and make sure the unwanted weeds aren’t as well. Mow patches of undesirable species before they seed but be wary of depleting your desired species of carbohydrate stores for winter. If needed, spray perennial weeds (especially Noxious Weeds) with herbicides in the fall as plants start storing carbohydrates to overwinter. Spray broadleaf weeds in fields if they’re starting to get larger than knee-high, this will reduce the competition for spring seedlings. Look up products and rates in the K-State Chemical Weed Control guide.
Fall is a good time to cut saplings and woody shrubs that inevitably encroach into fields. Cut the woody plants at the ground and then follow it with a stump treatment to ensure they don’t re-sprout. This will also make mowing easier in the future.
If your brome field took a hit from armyworms this year, consider a fall application of fertilizer. Tall fescue also benefits from fall fertilizer application of nitrogen and yields higher protein levels. Native warm season grasses, however, shouldn’t need the boost of nutrients. When in doubt, submit a soil sample to our office for your free soil test.
For spring planting plans, fall is a good time to start amending the nutrients in the soil. Lime can be added to adjust the pH for Brome, while nitrogen and phosphorous can also be adjusted prior to establishing your field.
Plant the Cool Season
If you cut your brome later this year and then it got hit with the heat wave and armyworms, it could be needing re-seeded if it hasn’t greened up yet. Smooth brome can be planted in late summer, early fall, winter, or early spring. No-till seeding of brome is an option if you do not need to incorporate lime or phosphorus to a 6-inch depth prior to planting. At this point in the year plus factoring in current seed prices, you may consider going with a spring planting. For more information on smooth brome, check out this K-State publication: http://bookstore.ksre.k-state.edu/pubs/c402.pdf