Rehabilitating Pastures – What Next?
Excess rainfall over the past year has wreaked havoc on pastures. Here are some things to consider as you make plans for reseeding.
In general, the best time to establish permanent cool season grass pastures is late August through September. The next best time is mid-February through mid-April. It may be tough to get ground dried out enough to reestablish pastures right now. Following are some options that may provide some flexibility.
Perennial ryegrass is an option for thinned pastures that still have some desired forages available. Most of our forage grasses require some soil cultivation or harrowing to get good germination and establishment. Perennial ryegrass is an exception. It can be broadcast in late March or early April to help fill in bare spots. I almost hate to mention that ground needs to stay wet in order to get good germination and establishment. Animals must be moved to another area while reseeding and establishment take place. This method can be used for pastures that are muddy messes, too.
Using spring and summer annuals may be an option for some situations. If ground is too wet to get in and level for a good seedbed, annual ryegrass can also be broadcast as described above. If annual ryegrass is used it will provide a good flush of growth until about early summer. This option would require coming back in and planting a summer annual like crabgrass, millet, or sorghum sudangrass to provide grazing during the summer. These warm season annuals can be planted from May through July, and they will require seedbed preparation as most of our forages do.
Of course, summer annuals will also play out at some point (crabgrass will reseed itself to an extent, but it will not begin growing again until next summer). So the option of using spring and summer annuals still requires establishment of a more permanent pasture in late summer. Cool season grasses like fescue and orchardgrass can be planted in late August through September.
Most importantly, using appropriate seeding rates, methods, and timing; soil testing and fertility; and keeping animals off while new forage establishes are all critical in achieving good results. If these details are ignored, permanent pasture establishment is next to impossible. More information on forages is available at our office or online – search ‘Kentucky Forages’ to find UK Extension’s resources. Or call (502) 222-9453 to request a site visit.
Written by Traci Missun, Oldham County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent.