Fall is a critical time to maintain good grazing management practices. Put simply; do not overgraze in the fall of the year. Our cool season pasture plants are perennials; they survive from year to year. The way they do that is by storing carbohydrates in stem bases and tiller bases, in rhizomes and roots. These reserves are used to initiate new growth in the spring. Over the winter the leaf tissue dies, but the buds and roots of the plant remain alive and continue to respire and burn energy. This energy comes from reserves stored in the fall of the year. If root reserves are insufficient the plant may die over the winter or be very slow to start growth the next spring.

The process by which plants produce the carbohydrates that are stored is photosynthesis. In order for photosynthesis to take place, there must be green leaf tissue. So again the message is; do not overgraze pasture plants in the fall of the year. Make sure that a residual height of at least 4 inches is maintained after a grazing pass.

Our cooler than average summer temperatures plus the regular rainfalls has made this a very good year for grazing. Cool season grasses have continued to grow throughout the entire summer. Graziers who are managing pastures should have an abundance of forage this fall and should take advantage of these weather conditions to make sure that pastures maintain adequate leaf area to provide good photosynthetic rates and allow plants to build carbohydrate reserves. This management will result in healthier spring pastures.

Source: Rory Lewandowski, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Athens County