CN August September 2023 Vol. 62 Issue 5

By Larry Stalcup Contributing Editor MAXIMIZE RAIN-REVIVED PASTURES With Sound Fall Range and Pasture Management

O ne of the driest spells ever was broken this spring and summer by drought-busting rain that blessed the Southern Plains and much of the Southwest. Parched pastures were reborn, regenerating new grass and other grazing fodder for many ranches large and small. But to have forages ready for better grazing next year, producers should consider maintaining a well-rounded fall and winter pasture management program. University and private company range management specialists encourage producers to use proven brush and weed control techniques to enhance revived grasses and other forages. “Our pastures soaked up the much- needed rain,” says Jodie Stockett, range and pasture specialist for Corteva Agriscience in Claude, Texas, adding that stalled herd rebuilding and expansion regained life. However, the welcomed rain also generated weed and brush growth that stole quality forage from rejuvenated pastures across the Southwest and Southern Plains. Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension specialists say weeds and brush can be controlled or prevented by maintaining a thick, vigorous grass stand. That’s easier said than done once weed growth advances or dry weather returns. Mechanical shredding, plowing or chemical methods are often needed. Several agribusiness service companies provide range management services. Along with Corteva, others include Bayer CropScience and smaller local entities. Independent range and pasture consultants also work with producers to get the most out of their pastures. Regional Extension specialists also provide links to better pasture management. All would agree that herd rebuilding or expansion starts with enabling grazing land to support more animals over the long term. Getting rid of one pound of

weeds enables pastures to produce an additional pound of native grass, AgriLife officials say. Corteva range and pasture specialists say effective weed and brush control preserves moisture and nutrients for recovering grasses. This increases forage yield, which elevates the energy and protein available to cattle. It helps cows meet their nutritional requirements and that of their calves more efficiently. While mesquite and weed control highlighted much of the summer’s brush management activity, Stockett says the

LandVisor technology provides a comprehensive view of range and pasture land. Imagery reveals areas of mesquite and other water-robbing brush. This enables LandVisor consultants to provide producers with information to map out a range management program to help generate better grazing conditions. Courtesy Corteva AgriScience

attention now turns to fall and winter brush control to help grasses obtain their full growth potential for 2024. Different climates often see different types of brush that can invade pastures. Like other range and pasture managers, regional Corteva specialists center on specific regions. That includes other Southern Plains and regions of the Southwest. They target brush and weeds common to local pastures. “For example, in the Southern Plains, much rangeland is ripe for broom snakeweed growth,” Stockett says.“Broom snakeweed is toxic to cattle and can cause abortions. It is a perennial shrub that is best treated in the fall with Tordon 22K [picloram]. Treatments should be made at full bloom or slightly post-bloom.” Other pesky types of brush in the region include locust trees, sagebrush and shinnery oak, which can produce dense thickets. Corteva’s Spike 20P [tebuthiuron] is a pellet-based herbicide that is mainly applied by aerial

treatments. It also controls tarbush and creosote bush. Map out an Advanced Brush Management Plan Advances in digital technology and imagery help improve many phases of cattle and pasture management. Corteva’s LandVisor system can provide a comprehensive view of an operation’s land. It helps outline various brush and weed management practices and guide range managers with improved pasture management methods. With LandVisor, ranchers work with certified consultants to collect sample data points across their property to help reveal new insights about the land. Those points are combined with sophisticated imagery to create a vegetation map focusing on specific problem species. Stockett says LandVisor will identify a treatment window for a specific pasture, and prescribe additional herbicide treatments to help improve the land.


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