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Assessing pasture production

The summer growing season in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas is from about mid-April through mid-November, and 70 percent of the annual production of summer perennial grasses is expected by the first of July.

Hugh Aljoe, consultation program manager for The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, said now is a good time for farmers and ranchers to assess their pastures to determine if their forage production is on track this season.

“It all comes down to whether you are working your pastures hard or smart,” Aljoe said. “Working smarter on pasture management begins with planning before the grazing season starts and requires regular production assessment and adjustment throughout the year.”

Aljoe said there are a few key questions farmers and ranchers should ask themselves during this assessment process: What was your plan this spring? Were fertilizer and/or weed control measures implemented? What kinds and classes of livestock will be present, how many and for how long? Have you made efficient use of the forage types in your pastures? Do you have the production that you planned for?

In order to get the most out of their land, it is important for agricultural producers to know the answers to these questions. Producers should also have knowledge about their pastures and soil types, and the grazing requirements of their livestock for the duration on the property. Aljoe also said producers may have to alter their initial plans as the weather changes.

"Of course, plans made during the winter or early spring won’t always be your final actions throughout the season," Aljoe said. "But with the appropriate monitoring and adjustments, the outcomes should be very similar. By asking these necessary questions, we can be more productive and certainly better stewards of the land."

Despite great effort, many pastures will still have an overworked appearance throughout the year; however, consultants at the Noble Foundation, county extension agents and the National Resource Conservation Service are able to assist farmers and ranchers in remedying this situation.

TAGS: Livestock
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