Too many times we reach the end of the summer grazing season and are surprised by the amount of grass left or not left in the pasture, says Dwayne Rice, a NRCS rangeland management specialist based in Lincoln, Kan. Rice says producers often set their stocking rates at the end of winter based on tradition, rule-of-thumb, averages for the county or a gut feeling of what the weather conditions will be like during the growing season. They turn cattle out for the summer and only make adjustments to the stocking rate when the entire herd is out of grass. Rice suggests developing a grazing plan that uses trigger dates for decisions based on moisture and forage production. Some of these dates have passed, but he says mid-July is one of the most important dates for planning and stocking purposes throughout the year. About 75 percent of the grass production for the year has been grown by this date, and during a drought it may be greater than 75 percent. Even if it starts raining tomorrow, he says, most of the growth after this date, especially in a drought year, will be reproductive tissue, stem and seed head, not forage. He suggests measuring available forage in the pasture at this stage in the growing season and dividing by the daily or monthly forage requirements of the herd to indicate how much time you have to make a long-term management decision. Remember the importance of leaving some standing residue or mulch on the soil surface to improve infiltration.