By David Moore, MFA Range & Pasture Specialist. MFA It’s that time of year when the NEW in new year really shows. New calves, blooming redbuds, and new growth of green grass. Sure, we’ll keep some hay out until they refuse it, but we can see light at the end of that tunnel we call winter. The time is upon us to plan our fertilizer application. Plan now to be rolling in grass this year!
I like to fertilize hay fields somewhere in the last half of March or early April. I think a bit differently on pasture ground. The good Lord gives us a big bunch of grass in April and early May. I like to hold off on fertilizing pastures until late April and wind it up in May.
Chances are, you eat a fairly balanced diet. If you’re like me that might be meat, taters, and a bit of dessert washed down with a cup of good coffee or a glass of tea. Your grass will certainly respond better for you if it gets a balanced diet, too. Think N-P-K and Sulfur.
Nitrogen (N) is that cup of coffee. It provides tremendous energy for the plant and helps build protein. Phosphorus (P) is the potatoes. One of the most important things phosphorus is responsible for is developing and growing a good root system that can find water and nutrients. Potassium (K) is the meat in the diet. Without ample potassium, forages can’t conserve water and lose the ability to stand. Sulfur (S) is the dessert. It just makes the whole thing better! Building amino acids and proteins is a major role of sulfur. Feeding a balanced diet to the forages results in palatable, nutritious feed for our livestock – and plenty of it!
When we properly fertilize, we really load the bases, and the next batter to step up to the plate is our cleanup hitter! Dry fertilizer impregnation is the grand slam… Adding DuraCor (18 oz.) or GrazonNext HL (32 oz.) to your fall fertilizer removes the competition, allowing all your fertilizer and soil moisture to feed the forages that feed the cows. My preference is DuraCor. It’s stronger, has great residual activity, and kills more weeds! This will help provide control to many of the summer annuals that are well known for stealing water and fertilizer from us. Close your eyes and just imagine what your field will look like this year – well-fed, weed-free and ready for haying or grazing! A serious reduction in ragweed, nettle, thistle, cocklebur, perilla mint, buckhorn plantain, pigweeds, and many others allows for an abundance of good clean grass!
Do keep in mind that impregnated fertilizer is designed to combat broadleaf weed, not brush. Buckbrush, blackberries, and tree sprouts are not well controlled with impregnated fertilizer. Also, please understand that impregnated fertilizer works best to stop weeds that haven’t emerged. If you have lots of emerged weeds, spraying may be the better choice.
Work with your Key Account Manager and location employees to determine exactly what blend to apply. Ideally, those recommendations are based on a soil test and a realistic yield goal for the upcoming growing season. In the absence of a soil test, I would tend to recommend a 60-30-60 8S for pasture ground. For hay fields, I would tend towards recommending a 90-30-90 12S.
Many of our locations have Super U available. Super U is a premium nitrogen source that is protected from all 3 forms of nitrogen loss. Super U stops leaching, denitrification and volatility. The super-wet spring weather we have experienced the past 2 or 3 years really takes a toll on nitrogen if it’s not protected. Chances of volatility increase as the temperature increases. You’ll sleep better at night if you use Super U. I highly recommend it.
Well-fed fields fare much better through hot, dry months. They are able to conserve water and continue producing quality feed far longer when the going gets tough. Think back to the last check you got from marketing calves, and imagine that it’s bigger. We get paid on pounds of beef. Producing more grass, and higher quality grass will lead you to more pounds of beef per acre per year. Turn on your grass, give a pink slip to the weeds and you’ll be rolling in grass. Go ahead, plan now to take home a bigger check – call your local MFA today!
By David Moore, CCA
-MFA Range & Pasture Specialist 417-942-9541 firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDITIONAL ARTICLE - Learn more about pasture management from Corteva Range and Pasture Territory Manager Brant Mettler - CLICK HERE
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