Soil test, then fertilize hayfields and pastures with needed potassium (K) and phosphorus (P) this fall, advises Steve Barnhart, Iowa State University Extension agronomist. That will help drought-stressed forage stands overwinter and improve the next spring’s regrowth and yields.

Apply 25-40 lbs/acre of nitrogen to grass pastures during their last few weeks of fall growth. That will help stimulate fall tillering or branching and give more vigorous recovery in spring, he says.

“Give recovering hay and pasture stands time to ‘catch up’ or regain more vigor next spring,” Barnhart adds. And if fields and pastures didn’t recover favorably, or will be cut or grazed late in the 2012 season, the forage plants may still be under physiological stress. Consider giving them a bit more recovery and growing time next spring before they are cut or grazed. For best "recovery management," delay the first cut of alfalfa stands until they reach early to mid-bloom. For pastures, allow 3-4” of growth in spring before livestock turnout.