As we leave 2011 and begin making business and grazing plans for 2012, we must plan around what happened to our pastures this last year. As I drive through much of the southern half of Texas, the effects of record heat and drought most of the year are evident.
As I walk pastures with producers, two things become very apparent. In both tame pastures and native rangelands, there is significantly more bare ground and exposed soil surfaceÍ¾ in many instances 50 to 70 percent of the soil surface is bare. The second observation is that root systems on perennial plants are reduced in both total biomass (volume) and root depth. These facts simply mean that our pastures are going to need time and tender loving care (TLC) this spring to recover and produce acceptable amounts of forage.
A good place to start with TLC is the use of dormant season weed control. Bare soil surfaces and moisture lead to germination of cool season annual grasses and broadleaf weeds. As I walk pastures, ryegrass, rescue grass, common broomweed, dandelion, mustards, thistles and numerous other species are common to prolific. These plants utilize precious moisture and fertility, and will compete for sunlight as we progress into spring.
In bermudagrass, many of these problem plants can be controlled with the use of DuPont TM Pastora ® herbicide. Pastora ® provides satisfactory control of most annual grasses and broadleaf weeds when applied at the rate of one ounce per acre in 1520 gallons of water as a broadcast spray on tame pastures. Pastora ® is a contact herbicide for grasses and weeds and also provides residual activity on broadleaf weeds for 3040 days following application. A second application of Pastora ® may be needed later in the spring to control weeds and unwanted grasses that germinate with warmer nights and higher soil temperatures.
For those grazing native pasture, dormant applications of DuPont TM Cimarron ® Plus or Cimarron ® MAX herbicide have done an outstanding job of controlling broadleaf weeds. Control of those species will give those native perennial grasses an opportunity for an early start before late spring and summer temperatures and dry weather kick in. As with Pastora ® , both of these products will provide for residual control of broad leaf weeds for 3040
days following application. Tame pastures and native grazing lands will need to be rested early this spring to allow leaves and roots an opportunity to recover from drought and excessive use. A good way to assist with recovery of our pastures is to eliminate competition from cool season grasses and weeds with dormant season weed control.