Fall pasture weed inventory: a start to improving production

Fall is a good time to assess your pasture condition as we go into the winter season.

This is especially important when it comes to your weed management strategies. Identifying the weeds of concern can take place in the fall and control plans for the next growing season can be determined. A good weed inventory in the fall will tell ranchers what the predominant weed species are in the pasture.

When scouting your pastures, check for the type of weeds present. Many perennials and biennials will have new growth in the fall, especially with adequate fall moisture. Perennials may have new shoots or seedlings from seed banks or, like biennials, the rosettes may be found. Annual weeds may have remnants of mature growth or, in the case of later emerging annuals, lush growth and new seed formation will be present. Some weed species can be grazed in the fall, but be sure the weed species present does not represent toxicity risks for livestock. The other management concern is to make sure the weeds are not allowed to go to seed and further increase the soil seed bank.

Fall is also a good time to assess the range and pasture grass conditions. Overstocking will contribute to stressing grass species and give weed species a competitive edge, thus increasing trouble spots in a pasture. This is a good time to consider adjusting your grazing management plan to increase the overall competitiveness of your forage mix. The best weed control program for pastures and range is a competitive healthy grass stand.

When conducting your weed inventory, identify the weed species in abundance and develop a pasture map that shows where the weeds are located and the general weed population size using a rating system of few, many or scattered. Also, note if the weeds are broadleaf, woody or grass species. Accurately identifying the weed species will make planning control options much easier.

Consider an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to your weed management plans. Look at all options available: herbicides, mowing or clipping, grazing management, biological control and other cultural and mechanical controls. If weed populations are noted in the inventory as being scattered in areas, a plan for spot treatment is a good way of cutting costs and reducing the amount of herbicide to the land.

Annual weeds are normally treated in the late spring and early summer with mid-June being the target for many pasture weeds. Perennial and biennial weed species can be treated in late spring and early fall with good results. Fall is a great time to spray some perennial and biennial weeds as the plants are translocating sugars and starches to their roots to prepare for winter. This will aid the herbicide treatment getting to the root system and give more effective results. If there are perennial brushy weed species present, specific herbicide products will need to be considered. Always remember to be aware of desirable forbs and broadleaf plants in the pasture and range and note them in your inventory, as well. Try to avoid contact with the herbicide treatment so you can maintain them as part of your healthy pasture and rangeland plant community.

The above information was taken from an article written by Darrell Deneke, integrated pest management coordinator for South Dakota State University Extension.

4-H needs adult leaders

For more than 100 years, 4-H has stood behind the idea that youth are the single strongest catalyst for change. What began as a way to give rural youth new agricultural skills, today has grown into a global organization that teaches kids life skills.

4-H is dedicated to positive youth development and helping youth step up to the challenges in a complex and changing world. 4-H is dedicated to helping cultivate the next generation of leaders and tackling the nation’s top challenges such as the shortage of skilled professionals, maintaining our global competitiveness, encouraging civic involvement and becoming a healthier society.

Here in Archuleta County during the 2013/2014 4-H year, we had 147 youth ages 5 to 18 involved in six clubs. These youth worked with caring adults throughout the year, learning skills that will benefit them through their entire lives. Some learned how to raise animals and others learned how to do woodworking, grow a garden, create a scrapbook, tie flies, sew clothing and much more. No matter what their specific project interest, all of these youth developed social skills, learned how to present and speak in public, experienced leading their peers and running a meeting and learned the importance of being responsible and completing a task.

But we can’t continue to offer these projects without caring adults who volunteer to lead them. For the 2014/2015 4-H year, we still need adults who are willing to lead the following popular projects:

• Sports fishing

• Veterinary science

• Shooting sports

• Outdoor adventures

• Cooking

If you are knowledgeable and passionate in any of these areas and enjoy working with eager-to-learn youth, 4-H is for you. The state 4-H program provides curriculum for you to use and the amount of time invested depends on the project needs and the time you and your youth members have available. Or if these topics are not for you, but you have other skills to share, you can also start new projects. For more information on leading a 4-H program in Archuleta County, call Becky Jacobson at 264-5931.

If you have children ages 5 to 18 and are looking to get them involved in healthy, fun and educational activities, come to our 4-H Open House on Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the CSU Extension office located at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds. Project leaders will be on hand to describe their projects, each club leader will be represented with information on their membership and meeting schedules, and 4-H Coordinator Becky Jacobson can answer any of your questions about the 4-H program. Come and meet our 4-H family and learn about a program for our youth that really makes a difference in their lives.

This story was posted on October 2, 2014.