From the Ground Up - Risks in Planting Fall Pastures

When you’re driving in rural areas in late fall and winter, chances are that when you see a lush green pasture, you don’t think of it being a crop of grass, but that’s exactly what it is, and with any crop there are risks. Mike Kristynik produces hay and cattle in northeast Brazos County.

“Been planting them for years, been doing a combination of oats and prepared seed bed, and also broadcasting rye grass, over seeding with fertilizer over permanent pastures, and e few years ago I bought a used no till drill and I started no till drilling oats. It’s to stretch the grazing through the winter time.”

Kristynik counts on cool season pastures to support his cow/calf operation.

“We calve in the fall and early winter and so we need some extra grazing for our mamma cows, and I’ve found that it helps them milk better, it helps the calves grow better, and cuts down on the amount of hay that I have to feed every year.”

And, of course, planting fall pastures means taking some risks.

“The biggest risk, of course is lack of rainfall and going into this fall I wasn’t just real sure about our winter pasture prospects. We got some good rain on September 20th and I moved forward with drilling some oats and then got some more rain since then and it’s really done well, and so the risk is investing in the seed and the fertilizer and then not getting the rainfall.”

If your crop comes up, there are other hazards to look out for.

“We have some other issues, Army worms, we have to scout for those pretty closely. They can destroy a crop in a hurry, and then feral hogs will tear up a place with your investment there pretty quickly.”

Winter, summer, spring, and fall, ag producers are always rolling the dice.