Many of the pastures in northern McDuffie County contain fescue. This grass grows rapidly in spring but production decreases in summer when temperatures are higher and moisture is frequently limited. We need to manage fescue to take advantage of the rapid flush of growth in the spring.
Fescue can efficiently utilize nitrogen (N) in the spring. Commercial nitrogen or manure can be applied to supply the needed N. Rates of N higher that 60-70 pounds/acre will not be efficiently used. When clover is present lower rates of N should be applied. Other nutrient requirements should be based on soil test.
If phosphorus (P) and potash (K) were applied in the fall of 2004 to predominantly fescue pastures, you could wait until the fall of 2005 to make another application. In pastures where Bermuda is also present, spring application of P and K would help the growth of the summer grass.
From time to time, we do get questions about using manure as fertilizer. If you are considering this, stop by the Extension Office to get a publication which will answer most of the questions one might have on this topic.
We usually waste a lot of forage in the spring. We can improve utilization by improving grazing management.
When fescue starts to grow in March allow cattle access to all of the pasture.
As growth increases and more forage is available, decrease the area grazed so that the cattle can keep the growth down to the desired level (4 to 6 inches in height). Areas not required for grazing can be saved for hay.
This is much more efficient than grazing the whole pasture until May and then trying to make hay.
As long as fescue is grazed at the proper height, you usually don't have a problem with fescue toxicosis. In all of the cases were I have seen people have problems with fescue, the grass had been allowed to get too mature for good grazing.