In April and May farmers planning on renovating tall fescue pastures should control seed production. If pastures are grazed, clipping is recommended as soon as pollen is present. Clipping early will also help the grass tiller more effectively, improving the stand and forage quality. Clip at about 6 inches to get the best results.
Removing seed heads as first cutting hay is also effective as long as hay is cut in the very early bloom stage or earlier. If you cut hay, make sure you clip heads in any areas that are missed by the hay cutter. Seedhead suppression with metsulfuron containing herbicides reduces seed head numbers and improves nutritive value of the forage, but it does not completely control seed production.
No matter which renovation strategy you choose, all systems depend on the control of seed production in the year of planting novel endophyte tall fescue or other non-toxic forages. This is the first critical step in improving your farm for the future.
April is also a good time to collect soil samples so amendments can be added in early summer. You should also talk to your advisors to decide which species and variety of forages to use in the renovation.
Finally, spring and summer weed control is important in the year of establishment. Know what your weed challenges are and plan to do an extra good job controlling those in the coming season.
~ Matt Poore, NCSU and Chair of the Alliance for Grassland Renewal
The Alliance for Grassland Renewal is a national organization focused on enhancing the appropriate adoption of novel endophyte tall fescue technology through education, incentives, self-regulation and promotion. For more resources or to learn more about the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, go to www.grasslandrenewal.org