Fertilizing tall fescue and bermudagrass pastures in late summer, then letting the regrowth accumulate for fall or winter grazing, can pay dividends, reminds John Jennings, University of Arkansas Extension forage specialist.
Producers with fescue should fertilize the first week of September, even if rain won’t be coming soon, says Jennings.
“It doesn’t take a lot of rain to activate the growth process,” he says. “Stockpiled fescue will hold out till February. They will be able to graze through the winter.”
Bermudagrass should have been fertilized in mid-August for grazing that begins in mid-October.
“It’ll make for some nice fall grazing,” he says. “Stockpiled bermudagrass can hold up quality-wise pretty well until December, even after it turns brown. The quality is still good and the cattle will still eat it.”
The potential cost savings are significant, says Jennings.
“We’ve seen savings of $20 per animal, and some producers have saved up to $100 per animal during the winter feeding period with bermuda,” he says. Growers with fescue saw savings of $30-80 per animal during winter and “those who had a lot of clover were in the upper range of that savings.”
However, if you wait until September to fertilize bermudagrass, yields will be cut by 60-80%, and if fescue isn’t fertilized until October, there likely will be little or no fertilizer response.
Jennings says some producers could gain up to 2,000 lbs/acre of both forages with very little rainfall in September and October, based on records of past farm demonstrations. For more information on pasture and forage management, visit www.uaex.edu or www.aragriculture.org/forage_pasture/grazing_program.