WACO – Beef producers should be mindful of preserving available forages for grazing, particularly as parts of Texas recover from historic drought, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service forage specialist.
Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson of Overton told attendees at the Blackland Income Growth Conference there are three key tools to consider when managing pastures following drought. The first is grazing management, making sure not to over-graze and allow pastures to rest and recover.
“Drought is a stressful event, so you need to allow forages to rebuild root systems into the next grazing season,” she said.
Next is weed control. Corriher-Olson said since Bermuda grass has been severely stressed during drought, it’s important that it has less competition from broadleaf weeds.
“This is very important as we move into springtime,” she said. “We need to eliminate those weeds and reduce that competition.”
Another key management tool is fertility management. With fertilizer prices fetching hefty dollar amounts, she recommends producers have their soil tested to see what nutrients are needed.
Without a soil test, “you are applying nutrients blindly.”
“We like to know what we already have in our soils, then we can make the appropriate decisions,” she said. “(A soil test) is very inexpensive and hopefully it will help save some money in the long run.”
A soil test is $10 and kits are available at AgriLife Extension county offices.
Alternative options such as poultry litter is another source of nutrients for soils. However, Corriher-Olson said it’s important to get as much information about that option before applying to a pasture.
“You need to learn more about what you are paying for, such as the cost per pound of that nutrient versus the cost per ton.”