The delayed spring conditions triggered a shortened growing window for cool season grasses , which could result in overgrazing warm season forages throughout the summer months.
Mark Goes, Southeast Community College agriculture instructor, explained the ‘production stage’ managers lost when many parts of the state experienced cooler weather conditions earlier this spring.
Cool season grasses, including bluegrasses, bromegrasses, and tall fescue, prefer warm, short day lengths and long cool nights for optimum growth. However, when most of Nebraska had adverse weather conditions earlier this spring, cool season grasses lost vital growth days and were unable to reach maximum growth production. As the summer months approach, the cool season grasses are entering dormancy.
Warm season grasses, including Bermudagrass and bluestem grasses, prefer longer day lengths and grow rapidly during July and August.
Goes explains that overgrazing warm season grasses could become an issue as grazing livestock compensate for the loss in cool season forage production.
To determine when pastures are ready to graze, Goes recommends managers evaluate leaf stages. He says cool season grasses are ready to graze when they have three fully formed leaves with a collar around the stem. Warm season grasses, however, are ready to graze when they have four fully formed leaves.