Avoid Grazing Drought-Weakened Pastures Too Early

According to one pasture management specialist, drought-weakened pastures might not recover for several years.

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As fall heads toward winter, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas’ weather has seen more moisture than earlier in the year, making it appear as though some drought-weakened pasture resources are healthier than they might be.

"Many forage-livestock producers are hopeful that the coming year will be significantly better than 2011; however, while rainfall will dramatically improve winter pastures and early spring forage production, the degree of recovery of many summer pastures remains unknown," said Daren Redfearn, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension forage and pasture management specialist.

There is no easy answer as to how long it will take drought-damaged summer pastures to recover, in part because lingering drought effects will not disappear immediately with the onset of recent, more typical precipitation patterns.

"Since long-term drought recovery is not common, there is no good rule-of-thumb to follow," Redfearn said. "It could take several years for many pastures to fully recover. This is especially true if drought conditions continue, as some weather experts have predicted

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