Much of the Midwest experienced drought-like conditions over most of the summer, putting pasture ground at risk.
Recent rains have helped some pastures recover, so it might be a good time to consider applying fertilizer to your pasture acres.
“If you are able to utilize the extra forage produced, now would be a good time to take a look at fertilizer,” says Aaron Saeugling, Extension forage specialist with Iowa State University based in southwest Iowa.
Producers who grow hay for commercial sale are more likely to take a split approach to fertilization, he says. They will apply early in the growing season and then add a fall application.
Mid-August to mid-September is a pretty good time for fertilization, and Saeugling says while nitrogen levels are usually pretty decent, it might be a good idea to do a soil test so you have an idea of what you’re dealing with in that field.
He says nitrogen should be the priority, followed by pH, potassium and phosphorus.
“You can also make an argument for P and K use to get additional forage tonnage,” Saeugling says.
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For producers growing alfalfa, pH will be at the top of the priority list, followed by potassium and phosphorus.
“Typically this will pay every year for you,” Saeugling says.
It has been so dry this summer for some pastures that any sort of recovery is unlikely, says Rebecca Vittetoe, Iowa State University Extension forage specialist based in southeast Iowa. She says dry weather negates the effectiveness of fertilizer without moisture available to make it work.
She says producers need to plan ahead if they are looking at possibly inter-seeding grasses, or even renovating existing pasture.
Vittetoe says producers who want to introduce legumes into existing pastures will want to make sure they are established prior to winter.
“If you want to improve your stand, legumes are a good option,” Vittetoe says.
Saeugling adds when it comes to alfalfa production, sulfur must also be a consideration. Tissue testing will help determine sulfur levels in the legume population.
Iowa State has more information available online at tinyurl.com/yvn2ha3b.