Pasture evaluation: Wait and see, or spray now?

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By Steve Moore

With the relatively mild winter, it’s not just the cool season grasses we see growing in our pastures and hay fields – our cool-season weeds are growing very nicely, too.  Evaluation of our pastures now can give us help in planning our attack on any developing weed problems.  Typically, plants such as musk thistle, poison hemlock, buttercups, purple deadnettle, common chickweed and various mustard species can be found.

Most cool-season weeds can be effectively controlled with herbicides containing 2,4-D.  As long as daytime temperatures are near or above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, herbicide treatments can be applied during late February and March when these weeds resume their active growth. 

Remember, though, as cool-season weeds die back in the early spring they will often be replaced with warm-season annual weeds such as common ragweed or cocklebur during the summer months.  Thus, another important decision is whether to use herbicides to kill existing weeds or put into action other management practices such as inter-seeding clovers or more grass in the spring to thicken the stand of desirable forage species. You may not be able to do both practices in the spring since most broadleaf herbicides have the potential to injure newly emerging forage grasses and legumes. 

As a rule of thumb, if you decide to spray this spring you will need to wait until late summer or fall before seeding additional forages.

Another course of action is a wait and see approach.  But keep in mind that smaller weeds are easier to control than older, mature plants.  More details on weed management and herbicides labeled for use on grazed pastures and their effectiveness on target weed species can be obtained in the UK bulletin, weed management in grass pastures, hayfields and fencerows (AGR-172) available at the Henry County Extension office.

Cattleman’s association
to meet Feb. 27

The Henry County Cattleman’s Association’s first 2012 meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at the Henry County Extension Office.  Topics of discussion will include an FSA/NRCS update, the popular veterinarians report, a Phase I cost share update, an FFA update, and an Extension update, along with a guest speaker from the Farm Machine industry.  

A sponsored supper is planned.  Please call the Henry County Extension Office at 845-2811 by noon Friday, Feb. 24, to make your reservations.

High mag mineral

The relatively warm and wet winter has some of our cool season grass pastures beginning to green up and grow. Cattle grazing these grasses are more susceptible to a mineral imbalance commonly called ‘Grass Tetany.’ Preventing grass tetany is usually accomplished by adding extra magnesium to the diet, usually by feeding a high magnesium mineral to the herd. 

If you haven’t already begun the high magnesium supplementation, and your cattle aren’t grazing much, consider it anyway.  I just checked with our veterinarians at the Henry County Animal Clinic and learned that they have seen and treated a fair amount of ‘Winter Tetany’ and would advise farmers use increased magnesium supplementation throughout the winter.