Winter Work to Improve Pastures

Winter Work to Improve Pastures

Dec. 21, 2015                                                                                         

Some things you just can’t plan for, but you can be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they do happen. Winter field work is one of these things.  Since most winters give us at least a few nice days without snowcover, such as we've seen recently, take advantage of them to improve your pastures and hay fields.

If you have pastures and hay fields, consider putting some of these things on your winter "to-do" list and add some flexibility to next spring's calendar. 

  • If the ground isn’t frozen, spray your alfalfa for winter annual weeds.
  • Dormant seed warm-season grass. 
  • If needed, spread phosphorus on alfalfa.
  • Move bales out of the field before spring rains make it a muddy mess. 
  • Cut cedar trees.
  • Move cows out onto yucca-infected pastures to winter graze and reduce some of the yucca problem. 
  • Frost seed legumes.
  • Spray herbicides to control downy brome or wild oats if they are green.
  • Build cross fences, tighten sagging perimeter fences, and smooth out gopher mounds.

If you are like me, you never think about those tasks in winter, much less go out and do the work.  And that’s too bad because once spring arrives there will be so many other demands on your time that some of these jobs will be skipped entirely and others probably will be rushed and completed less effectively.

Winter normally isn’t thought of as a time for field work, but if you’re prepared you can take advantage of breaks in the weather, you can get a good jump on spring activities.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist