Overseeding pastures help maintain grazing grass
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For additional information find Gerald Evers "A Guide to Overseeding Warm-Season Perennial Grasses with Cool-Season Annuals."
The drought conditions have left our forage resources for this fall and winter in short supply. The surrounding states have supplied hay to many producers in Texas. Cattle herds have been culled, sold down, and dispersed.
For those still looking for additional hay, the De-Go-La Cooperative Hay Lift is in full swing. In addition, the Texas Hay Hotline has hay listings being compiled for the state.
Speaking of hay, have you tested your hay for protein and energy? If not, I encourage you to do so before you make plans to book your winter supplement.
The analysis will indicate the supplemental feed needs for a given group of cattle for each hay tested. The Goliad Crops Committee will hold a forage and soil testing campaign this fall, offering free shipping for this informative $6 to $10 test.
Another forage option available to producers this fall is overseeding warm-season pastures with a cool-season forage, assuming we continue to have adequate moisture conditions. With our summer pastures being grazed short, early establishment is very possible and would thus facilitate fall forage production.
A cool season forage could be used to supplement cows and grow retained, purchased, or gain stockers.
A general rule of thumb is to overseed cool-season annuals four to six weeks before the average first killing frost date.
Wheat provides the most flexibility as a crop. It can serve as a forage crop and grain crop simultaneously, if managed properly. Wheat is considered a winter-hardy cool season annual grass. It produces well on a wide range of soils, with very sandy soils being the exception. Most of the production occurs in the spring, peaking in mid-April.
Oat can be planted in early fall or late winter. Keep in mind that forage production can be variable with oats. Oats do not grow well on sandy soils, but tolerate wet, poorly drained soils better than other small grains.
Ryegrass is adaptable to a wide range of soil types, growing better on wet soils than most other cool season annual grasses. It can be easily established by simply broadcasting seed on the soil surface or on grass sod. Ryegrass matures later than other small grains, extending the grazing season into the month of May. It also has excellent reseeding ability if properly managed.
Triticale is a cool season annual grass, but not widely used. Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye. Its forage production and distribution is similar to wheat but early in maturity.
Clover is a cool-season annual legume that adapts well to most soils, and has the potential to reseed. Seeding rates are low, but you will have greater success tilling the soil than overseeding a pasture. Bloat of livestock can be a concern with most clovers.
Mixtures of small grains with ryegrass work well to extend the grazing season. Although the planting depth of ryegrass is shallower than small grains it can be mixed directly into the seed box with the small grains. Best results occur on prepared seedbeds, but with pastures being grazed short this season, sod seeding could produce very satisfactory results.
Brian Yanta is the Goliad County Extension agent.