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Fall a good time to prepare pastures for next year

posted: September 10. 2018 09:53a CST
by / Emily Wilmes U of M Extension Livestock Educator

While many farmers are thinking about crops and harvesting them, fall also is an important time of year for pasture care, especially for horse owners. The following fall pasture to-do list for horse owners offers some good tips to keep pastures looking great and give it a boost for next year.

• Seed pasture grasses. Mid-August to mid-September is the best time of year to seed or reseed pastures because there is usually adequate moisture, less weed competition and cool, desirable weather conditions.

• Take soil samples. See if pastures need any nutrients. Any time from now until the ground freezes is a good time to take samples because the soils are drier and more stable.

• Dispose of manure/​fertilize. If planning to fertilize pastures with manure, sample the manure first to know how much to spread. Only spread manure on pastures if there are more than 2 acres per horse. A commercial fertilizer also can be used, but test soils first to know how much is needed.

• Weed control. Now is the time to control perennial weeds with an herbicide. Perennial plants are storing nutrients for winter in their roots. As the nutrients go into the roots, so will the herbicide, giving the best chance for a successful kill.

• Maintenance. Make sure fences are in good shape before the snow flies. Pay special attention to posts and fix any broken posts before they are frozen into the ground. Also, clear out any debris or trash from pastures.

• Rest the pasture. If a pasture is over-grazed, rest it for the remainder of the year. This will give the grass a chance to store up nutrients for next year so the pasture will be healthier in the spring. On average, a pasture needs 30 days of rest after one or two weeks of grazing.

• Remove animals during frosts. Hoof traffic after a frost can damage grasses. Have a sacrifice area set aside where horses can be held until the grass thaws.

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