Management & Maintenance
 Weed Control
The importance of weed control in native as well as improved pastures is an essential element in pasture management. A producer can expect to gain one pound of desired forage or grasses for every one pound of weed destroyed. Thus potential yield increase can be as high as 75% in severely weed infested fields
 
Herbicide applications are the most common means of weed control. Herbicide should be applied at spring green up in March through early May depending on weather conditions and locations. The type of herbicide and rate of application used will be determined by the type of weeds, growth stage, soil type, as well as management objectives. If clovers are to be managed in the fall, do not use any chemical with extended residual control. Products such as Grazon P+D, Amber or Ally should be used with caution. Products such as 2,4-D, and Weedmaster have proven their ability to provide adequate broadleaf weed control without excess residual effects Depending on the severity of weed infestation, a second application of herbicide after the first hay cutting or graze down may be required.
 
Another effective and relatively inexpensive means of weed control is mowing or shredding. This is very beneficial in controlling annual weeds. This method of control is best utilized when weeds begin to flower, but before seed set. Shredding can be utilized not only to control weeds but also to enhance forage quality and forage growth, thus is most beneficial in grazing operations.
 
When Mowing or shredding leave at least two inches of stubble height. Initial shredding should be done according to weed development, plant growth and flowering stage of the plant. In severely infested pastures, early shredding may be beneficial to reduce weed competition. Thus allowing more sunlight and space for desirable grass development.
Fertilizing Established Warm Season Grasses
Fertilizing established perennial warm season grasses will be determined by management practices and intended use of pasture or land. Many grasses have the capability of utilizing different levels of nutrients, and some grasses respond better to higher levels of fertilizer than others do.
The most commonly used fertilizer components applied to pastures are Nitrogen (N), Phosphate, (P205), Potash (K20), and to a lesser degree lime (Ca). In lower pH soils, applications of lime (Ca) may need to be applied. In high pH soils with excessive sodium or calcium, Gypsum applications may be required. The application of either lime or gypsum should be confirmed by a soil test. Most micro nutrients such as Zinc (Zn), Iron (Fe), Magnesium (Mg), as well as other micro nutrients are typically ignored, however, deficiencies of these nutrients can retard plant growth, limit utilization of major nutrients such as N, P, K, and Sulfur.
Fertilizing for Grazing Purposes
 It is recommended, that most Phosphate, Potash, Lime and gypsum should be applied and incorporated (mixed in the soil) to receive full utilization and benefit from these fertilizer components. By incorporating these elements into the soil, these nutrients are placed in the root zone, where maximum utilization can be obtained. Application of these nutrients should be done every 2 -3 years, during stand renovation or soil aeration practices. Test Soil on an annual basis to monitor nutrient levels in the soil.

switchgrass pasture

When moisture is adequate, nitrogen applications, for grazing management should be applied in two applications per season. The first topdress application should be applied at spring green-up between March and May (depending on location and climate). For most grasses, 40-100 units of Nitrogen is adequate for the first application. This will give the desirable grasses a boost of top growth, reduce weed competition as well as increase forage quality. A second application of 40-50 units may be applied after the first initial graze down or in midsummer. Always apply nitrogen fertilizer when expected rains persist to reduce losses due to denitrification and volatilization.
 
 
Fertilizing For Hay Production

For hay production, a more intense fertility program is required. Since most of the forage is being removed, very little nutrients are being replaced. One could say, that hay production is a method of mining the soil of its minerals and nutrients, therefore fertility practices are the most important management objective in obtaining high quality and high yielding hay.

B dahl bluestem

Potash (K2O), phosphate(P2O5) and micronutrients should be applied early spring to receive full benefit of fertilizer components. These components will need to be replaced more readily or in higher amounts than in grazing pastures and should also be done during stand renovation or aeration practices.
Nitrogen applications should be applied throughout the season. Most improved grasses respond well to 50 -100 units of nitrogen per season. For native grasses,30-90 units of nitrogen per season are adequate. These rates should be split into two to three separate applications, depending on the number of cuttings expected per year. The first topdress application should be applied at spring green up, the subsequent applications after each hay cutting. Soil tests your fields on an annual basis to monitor nutrient needs.
 

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