Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
April 6, 2000

Maintaining Available Forage

The most asked question I have received this season is "When is it going to rain?" Water is the single most important nutrient for either plant or livestock production. Many producers are beginning to get concerned about the production of available forage for grazing.

One of the most often cited pasture management concerns by producers is weed control. This is one season that weed and brush control needs to be considered. A plant is considered to be a weed if it is toxic, unpalatable to livestock, competes for light, fertility, water or space that reduces palatable pasture.

Weeds can be grouped into several types. Perennial weeds and brush first become established from seed or root pieces and slowly colonize an increasingly larger area of the pasture. They are generally the most difficult type of weed to control. Multiflora rose is a perfect example of this type of weed throughout much of the Midwest. Biennial and annual weeds are opportunists. They produce many seeds and spread rapidly into areas that has less vegetation or areas that provide little competition. Several of the biennial pasture thistles, including the musk thistle and bull thistle, are problems in some areas. Weeds, particularly the rapidly growing annual weeds, can be very damaging during pasture establishment.

Keep in mind that legumes make nitrogen and nitrogen grows grass. This is a very important concept if you are trying to establish legumes in an established cool season grass pasture. Establishment of legumes often requires the application of lime. The past few months have been and continue to be very favorable for lime application.

Thoughtful pasture fertilization can be money well spent. I often hear the statement that grass is free and it grows without fertilizer. This may be true, but the amount produced can be increased from fifty to one hundred percent through a modest fertilization program. A modest fertilizer program should start with a soil test. The soil sample is easily obtained under most conditions. Many companies will work with you in getting the results and assist with the application. I have heard the comment, "These firms are in business to sell fertilizer and I do not want them involved with the soil test." If this is your feeling, then collect the sample and have the   analysis conducted through your local University of Missouri Extension Center. These results will be returned to you and regional specialists are available to discuss these with you.

Fertility, moisture, and management will provide excellent forage growth and conserve soil loss. Forages are a crop we just harvest them different compared to corn and soybeans.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - April 6, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT040600.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004