Check your fall pasture to-do list


It seems there are never enough days in the fall of the year to accomplish all the things I want/need to do. Daylight hours shorten quickly and before I know it, it’s dark before 6 p.m.

Weekend hours also seem to vanish because I’m trying to finish projects around the house that I put off, and, of course ,there are fall activities each weekend, some of which I’m expected to be at, and others that I just want to attend because it won’t happen again until next year.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As if there are not already enough things to do in the fall, here are a few other jobs to add to your “to do” list before winter.

Soil testing

Fall is a good time to take soil tests. Correcting pH, if a field or paddock tests low, takes time.

Lime applications often take six to 12 months to effectively neutralize soil and allow plants maximum uptake of soil nutrients.

The relative availability of elements chart (from OSU Agronomy Guide, Bulletin 472) shown here, indicates how essential a soil pH of 6 to 7 is for forage plants. The width of the different element bars in the chart indicates uptake potentials by the forage plant as soil pH increases or decreases.

While all elements are necessary for maximum plant growth, the quantity of the macro nutrients (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S) needed by plants is greater than the quantity of micro nutrients (Fe, Mn, B, Cl, Zn, Cu, Mo).

You can see how quickly phosphorus uptake can be affected when pH goes down.

Phosphorus is associated with root formation, flowering and fruiting in the plant. Deficiency symptoms are: leaf tips look burnt sometimes a purple or reddish color on older leaves, the overall appearance of the plant may be stunted and reduced yields occur.

Other nutrients can be adversely affected by low pH soils, too. So, do your soil tests, make applications if necessary and provide optimum growing conditions for your forages next year.

Weed control

Another project for fall. While it seems this year’s growing season is coming to an end, some weeds are easier to control now than at other times of the year.

Mark Loux, OSU Extension weed specialist, says the optimum timing of fall herbicides varies based on the life cycle of the plant.

Winter annuals, biennials, and cool season perennials can be treated as temperatures decline. These weeds are most effectively controlled when herbicides are applied between mid-October and mid-November.

Mineral soils

Winter annuals include chickweed, purple deadnettle, henbit, mustards, cressleaf groundsel and others.

Biennials, such as poison hemlock and wild carrot, are most effectively controlled in the fall at the end of their first year of growth, when they are in the low growing rosette stage.

Cool-season perennials such as dandelion, Canada thistle and quackgrass are good targets for fall herbicides, too.

A key to effective control of these weeds is to make sure the weeds have recovered after late summer harvests, mowing or drought and have some size to them. Canada thistle should be 8-12 inches tall for best results and dandelion should have sizable rosettes with a number of fully expanded leaves.

Good luck with all your fall jobs, and hopefully the ones I’ve mentioned are just reminders rather than additional work.




(The author is an OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator in Monroe County, Ohio. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem OH 44460.)

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