Time for Pasture Work
September is the time to make your pasture the best it can be. That can mean renovation for poor pastures or simply a little TLC for those that are well cared for. If your pasture is in really bad condition, you may want to spray your pasture with a broadleaf weed killer such as “crossbow” to kill the weeds. Wait 3 weeks and then mow the pasture down to about 3 inches. Then apply your desired cool season grass seed–such as fescue or orchard grass–along with fertilizer, as mentioned above. With some well timed rains you will see a change in the pasture in about 4 weeks! You may also want to consider using a core aerator on your pasture. If you have large animals such as cattle or horses, compaction can be a real issue. Aeration can go a long way toward making your pasture more productive.
If you have a well maintained pasture, you will most likely only need to mow the pasture to about 5″-6″ and apply a good nitrogen fertilizer. This can be in the form of 46-0-0 or 17-17-17, if you need phosphorus and potassium. You will need roughly 100 pounds of 46-0-0 per acre OR 260 pounds of 17-17-17 per acre to get the desired result. You can also apply lime, if needed.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you should conduct a soil test on your pastures at this time. Soil sample kits are are available at the Extension Office, but be sure to pick up one (or more!) and mail them to the lab in Raleigh by the end of October. We can even go over the samples when they are returned to make sure you understand the results. If you prefer, someone from our office can come take the samples for you, mail them, and track the results for a fee.
If you have questions about pasture care, please call the Polk County Extension office 828-894-8218. I can answer your questions, and our livestock agent (Noah Henson) can as well.