Late fall is a good time to rid warm-season pastures of unwanted cool-season species, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage agronomist.
Cheatgrass, downy brome, bluegrass, smooth brome and other cool-season plants have invaded many warm-season grass pastures and rangeland, says Anderson. That shifts good grazing away from summer and toward spring when most producers have plenty of pasture, anyway.
“Cool-season grasses take over summer pastures relatively easily because they develop rapidly during fall and spring when native grass provides little competition,” he says. “Then they use moisture and nutrients during spring before warm-season plants have a chance to use them.”
Heavy grazing after hard freezes this fall, as well as early next spring, will reduce competition next summer. Hard freezes turn warm-season plants dormant but cool-season grasses remain green. A prescribed spring burn also can do wonders for a warm-season pasture if you can conduct the burn safely and legally, says Anderson.
An even faster approach, he adds, is to apply a glyphosate herbicide like Roundup now. For best results, spray when temperatures are above 60° during the day and stay above 40° at night.
“Don’t settle for invaded native pastures,” Anderson advises. “Transform them back to vigorous warm-season grasses for better summer grazing.”