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October 2010

A bi-monthly news publication of The Ohio State University Extension, Editors: Clif Little and Mark Sulc
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Dear Friends,

We hope the beginning of your autumn is going well, although we expect the dry weather these past few weeks has created some challenges. Hopefully we will receive some rain soon. In this issue we review management for stockpiling forage and managing pastures in the fall, along with an article about a new weed problem that is showing up in some parts of Ohio. It has been some time since we sent out an issue of this newsletter. You can find articles about pasture and hay management and events posted on a more regular basis on our blog, at http://ohioforages.blogspot.com/.

Your friends,

Clif Little,
Extension Educator,
Ag/Natural Resources
Forage Team Co-Leader

Mark Sulc,
OSU Forage Specialist
Forage Team Co-Leader

[top] Pasture Management in the Fall - Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator Athens County and Buckeye Hills EERA

The fall period, particularly the months of September and October, is an important time to manage pastures. Specifically, pastures must be managed to insure that the desirable grass and legume plants are able to build up and store carbohydrate reserves for the winter period. It is this ability to store carbohydrate reserves and thus keep a root system living over the winter months that distinguishes a perennial plant from an annual plant. It is during the short day, long night periods in the fall of the year that flower buds are formed/initiated on the crown of the plant. While the leaf tissue dies during the winter, the buds and roots of the plant remain as living tissues over the winter and continue to respire and burn energy. If root reserves are insufficient the plant may die over the winter. If the plant survives but root reserves are low, spring re-growth and vigor of the plant is reduced.

So, what is necessary for plants to build up these carbohydrate reserves? Simply put, there must be adequate leaf area so that the plant can maximize the photosynthetic process. Pastures must continue to be managed in the fall of the year so that they are not over grazed. We know that re-growth is slower in the fall of the year. Plant growth is more temperature sensitive than photosynthesis. This means that even if plant growth is very slow because of cool temperatures in the fall, if leaf area is present, photosynthesis is still taking place at a good rate. Therefore, the mistake of overgrazing is amplified in the fall of the year. Depending upon the severity of overgrazing, the plant may not re-grow enough and develop enough leaf area to take advantage of sunshine and produce carbohydrates.

We often hear the term carbohydrate root reserves used when talking about winter storage. The root is the storage area of carbohydrates for plants with a taproot, including legumes like alfalfa and red clover. For white clover, the carbohydrate storage area is the stolen. Technically, our cool season grasses store the majority of carbohydrate reserves in stem and tiller bases, some in rhizomes and only a little in roots. However, this technicality does help us to understand some management aspects of pasture grass and fall carbohydrate storage. For example, orchardgrass stores carbohydrates in the lower 3 to 4 inches of stem bases and tillers. Tall fescue and bluegrass both maintain carbohydrate storage at the base of tillers as well as rhizomes. Tall fescue and bluegrass can both tolerate lower grazing/clipping heights than orchardgrass.

Once we reach the fall period it is critical that grass plants be managed to insure that adequate leaf area is left after a grazing pass. Photosynthesis will provide the carbohydrates needed for winter storage, provided there is adequate leaf area. Since leaf growth will be slow, this means leaving a typical grazing residual plus some extra. For orchardgrass this probably means 4 to 5 inches at a minimum. Tall fescue and bluegrass should probably be managed to leave a 3 to 4 inch residual.

Pasture management in the fall of the year that insures there is adequate leaf area to allow plants to maximize photosynthesis and build carbohydrate reserves will pay off in quicker spring green up and more vigorous spring plant growth.

[top]Ohio's New Pasture Invader-Clif Little, Extension Educator, Guernsey & Noble Counties

Spotted knapweed, a noxious weed was first detected in our area two years ago. The weed seed was most likely purchased in a pasture seed mix. Since that time this noxious weed has expanded more rapidly than could be imagined. Heavy infestations of this weed can now be found concentrated in the Quaker City area. The plant seed is easily distributed with the movements of equipment and hay. Observations along the roadways confirm pockets of these weeds extending into Noble, Guernsey, Belmont and Monroe counties.

Spotted knapweed is the most aggressive perennial weed to impact hay and pasture fields in Ohio. This plant can produce as much as 1000 seeds per plant. The western United States has struggled with the weed for many years and it has only recently become a problem for us. The plant is attractive and resembles the bloom of red clover. Currently, the plant is 1-3 feet tall. The problem with this weed is that it can completely take over hay fields and pasture land as indicated by the picture (a hay field near Quaker City). Livestock avoid eating the plant while it crowds out desirable grasses and legumes.

Plant seeds are inadvertently spread through the actions of hay hauling and mowing. It is also likely vehicles venturing into infested areas have contributed to plant distribution. My recommendations are to control the plant as soon as you see it. In small areas around the house you can pull it up and burn it. It may also be spot sprayed utilizing a glyphosate product such as Roundup or one of the many other products containing this active ingredient. For pasture and grass hay fields there are several broadleaf herbicides options depending on knapweed state of maturity and use of the forage. At the current state of knapweed development and according to University studies Milestone™ at 5-7 oz/Acre or ForeFront™ at 2-2.6 pt/Acre can provide effective control. Refer to product labels for herbicide use restrictions regarding grazing, hay harvest and replanting. The application of broadleaf herbicides will injure legumes such as clover and alfalfa.

The best knapweed control program is early detection and eradication. Avoid spreading this weed seed on farm machinery. Don't purchase hay containing knapweeds and utilize only certified seed when planting. Manage hayfields and pastures to promote dense grass growth and this will help to reduce knapweed invasion. For more information contact your local OSU Extension office.


 OSU Extension embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that all educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, age, gender identity or expression, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or veteran status. Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, OSU Extension TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868

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