BEEF producers should be mindful of preserving available forages for grazing, particularly as parts of Texas recover from historic drought, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service forage specialist Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson of Overton, Texas.
She told attendees at the Blackland Income Growth Conference there are three key tools to consider when managing pastures following drought.
The first is grazing management, making sure not to over-graze and allowing pastures to rest and recover.
"Drought is a stressful event, so you need to allow forages to rebuild root systems into the next grazing season," she said.
Next is weed control. Corriher-Olson said since Bermuda grass was severely stressed during the drought, it's important to reduce its competition from broadleaf weeds.
"This is very important as we move into springtime," she said. "We need to eliminate those weeds and reduce that competition."
Another key tool is fertility management. With fertilizer prices fetching hefty dollar amounts, Corriher-Olson recommends that producers have their soil tested to see which nutrients are needed.
Without a soil test, "you are applying nutrients blindly," she noted. "We like to know what we already have in our soils; then, we can make the appropriate decisions. (A soil test) is very inexpensive, and hopefully, it will help save some money in the long run."
An alternative option such as poultry litter also provides a source of nutrients for soils. However, Corriher-Olson said it's important to get as much information about that option before applying it to a pasture.
"You need to learn more about what you are paying for, such as the cost per pound of that nutrient versus the cost per ton," she explained.