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Title: Sod-seeding cool-season grasses on unimproved warm-season pastures

item Bartholomew, Paul

Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/28/2006
Publication Date: 12/11/2006
Citation: Bartholomew, P.W. 2006. Sod-seeding cool-season grasses on unimproved warm-season pastures [abstract]. Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands, December 10-13, 2006, St. Louis, MO. 2006 CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary: ABSTRACT ONLY

Technical Abstract: Limited availability of forage during the cool season creates a problem for livestock producers throughout the southern plains. Many farmers make hay, plant cool-season small-grain cereals, or stockpile warm-season forage to maximize their capacity for winter feeding, but on small farms these options may not be possible because of limited resources or low productivity. Growing cool-season perennial forage grasses may offer an alternative that is appropriate for small producers. Annual ryegrass and a range of cool-season perennial grasses were sown in clean-tilled ground, or no-till drilled into stubble of Korean lespedeza (Kummerowia stipulacea) or into dormant warm-season pasture and yields were measured to assess the impact on forage production. No-till seeding into existing pasture resulted in an average net gain in year-round forage yield of 610 lb for each 1000 lb of cool-season grass produced. Among the cool-season grasses tested only annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) produced significant increases in year-round production with all establishment methods. Productive stands of perennial cool-season grass were not sustained beyond two growing seasons with tall wheatgrass (Elytrigia elongata), intermediate wheatgrass (E. intermedia) and a creeping wheatgrass (E. repens) x bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) hybrid. By the fourth year of study, yield was severely curtailed in tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and smooth brome (Bromus inermis). Korean lespedeza in a cool- and warm-season grass sequence gave a mean annual production of 542 lb per acre (608 kg per ha), and increased forage nitrogen content. Lack of persistence and low productivity limit the usefulness of cool-season perennial grasses on marginal land in the southern plains. Tillage of existing warm-season pasture and replacement with cool-season forage may also reduce year-round production compared with undisturbed warm-season pasture or with cool- and warm-season grasses grown in sequence. Annual ryegrass offers a potentially productive alternative to cool-season perennials, but gains in productivity are offset by the need for annual resowing.