Rebounding after recent rains

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There is no doubt that our recent rainfall has helped tremendously. From rural pastures to urban landscapes, everything does better with rain.

Lawns have fared incredibly well. As my wife and I took a road trip this past weekend and didn’t get to mow the lawn, it is evident to all passersby that we need to mow. Stories have been shared amongst friends that they didn’t mow but just a few times over the summer. But now with the recent showers, lawns that have simply been surviving seem now to be thriving.

Even late producing fruit such as pears and persimmons have been heard to be in full production. If these trees were able to hold onto their fruit during the drought, then this recent rain has set them up for a full fall harvest. One lady at church recently told me how, “My pear trees are having a bumper crop, more than I’ve ever seen…and I don’t even like pears that much.”

Most importantly for stockmen and hay producers, the pastures and hay meadows are, by most accounts, rebounding nicely. One of the grasses that we notice “rebounding” in perennial pastures after summer rains is crabgrass.

Crabgrass is an annual grass that is considered a weed in any lawns and is considered a weed by many a hay producer. Then again, I’ve known stockmen that have depended on it and consider it a valuable part of their grazing regimen. Just this week, I was with a gentleman that had me come to his place to identify this grass that was showing up all over his hay meadow.

Make no mistake, crabgrass can produce a high quality, palatable forage. In some research, the nutrient value of crabgrass often outperforms our two standard summer pasture grasses, Bermuda and Bahia.

If you study any grass identification book, you’ll be surprised how many varieties of crabgrass are out there. The best one to have in a pasture is the large or hairy crabgrass (Digitaria Sanguinalis). This variety produces the most tonnage per acre. In an un-grazed or un-baled part of the field, one can find it growing nearly two feet tall.

If you do enough research, you can find information on how to establish fields of crabgrass. Everything from preferred varieties, seeding rate, fertilization rates, and harvest methods have been developed for this misunderstood forage.

Now along with the bonus of crabgrass filling in the gaps, the adversarial armyworm has also been spotted in several fields. Armyworms are a terrible pest that hay growers fight annually. There are still several products that will do an effective job of eliminating them. For guidance on what to use and the cost per acre, there are two incredible sources of information. First, do an internet search for “Managing Insect and Mite Pests of Texas Forage Crops.” Be careful to search for that title at agrilifelearn.tamu.edu or from the excellent website foragefax.tamu.edu. Armyworms are the very first pest listed in that publication on page 3 right after the introduction.

The second source of help in treating armyworms is the “Herbicide and insecticide cost per acre spreadsheet.” It is in an excel spreadsheet and is also found at the foragefax.tamu.edu website under the publications tab.

The late summer rainfall has encouraged hay producers to get another cutting of hay – a much needed commodity with the shortage of winter hay supplies. More than one baler that I have spoken with said they would bale tomorrow if the current threat of rain was lower.

Pressing one forage producer, I asked if he could get a hay cutting up in the next few days, did he think it would be possible to harvest…yet another cutting before the end of the season. He said he seriously doubted it but did mull over the idea.


Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu

Cary Sims
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

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