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Grasses and Grazing

Learn about pasture management, stocking rates and grass production from beef and dairy specialists and agronomists around the country.

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Every spring, there is a chorus of calls and emails asking, “When is the best time to put nitrogen (N) on tall fescue?” The answer that I usually give is, “Probably about five months ago.”

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Forage production on native grasslands is a vital component of Nebraska’s beef cattle industry, which had 1.9 million head of cows in 2018 (fourth in the U.S.).

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Pasture is the most cost-effective feed for ruminant livestock. But at times, nutrients in pasture exceed the livestock’s needs. To measure pasture quality, we can sample and test pasture forage as we do hay.

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A common management problem faced by most hay or livestock producers is weed and brush infestation. Weed species compete with desirable forage species for sunlight, moisture and nutrients.

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New landowners sometimes face a daunting challenge: how to make the most of newly acquired pastureland that has been overgrazed for years. The soil may lay bare, incapable of the forage production necessary to support a substantial number of animals.

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Tall fescue is a mainstay of the American beef cattle industry. It grows on about 35 million acres of pastureland in the eastern U.S. University recommendations in the Mid-Atlantic region generally suggest applying 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen in late summer (end of August) to stimulate forage growth with the onset of cooler weather in the fall.

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