Cool Season Annuals vs Perennials

This past winter and early spring have been phenomenal with respect to livestock performance. Some of the best quality annual grass and forb production in recent memory has occurred in Sims and
I’s area of ranch production. Close observation reveals the approaching end of this annual cool season growth. (Annual plants only last so long.) Attention needs to now be focused on perennial cool season plants that are showing excellent new growth as the below picture shows. Canada Wildrye in lower portion of photo Western Wheatgrass within mid portion of photo. The Texas Bluegrass did not make the photo as it is just to the right of the lower portion. The summer grasses are beginning to green, albeit slowly and the need for timely late spring rainfall will determine the amount of production those perennial warm season plants will offer. However, those deep-rooted healthy perennials are going to show appreciable growth with the current moisture conditions. The important aspect of the rancher is to pay attention to conditions and not relax with the thought ‘All is well’. With todays market economy every opportunity needs to be realized.

 

Yes, we are very thankful for the excellent grazing conditions experienced recently. Preparing and being aware of what the next season has to offer, is a large part of planning for properly applied grazing management.

 

The photo of Bobs Creek shown depicts a much different picture than was present during the continuous grazing days of the past. Rarely did we find dense stands of perennial cool season grasses other than Texas Wintergrass and the creek banks were somewhat erosive with little more than rocks and dirt showing their presence. Grazing and rest from that grazing has made the difference.IMG_0265(3).jpg

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Rangelands and Ranching: A Study of Proper Use of Rangelands & the Environment by Frank S Price

My son and I ranch a cow-calf, wooled sheep and hair sheep operation in West Central Texas. We operate 7 different grazing units and utilize a single herd, traditional pasture grazing program within all these units. My son represents is the 5th generation of this enterprise that was started in 1876 by my great grandfather. He and his brother began by driving a herd of cattle from Ennis Texas to Santa Anna Texas, ultimately driving the herd of cattle they had built to Kansas markets and returned to Sterling County, to begin a permanent ranching operation. Rainfall within our scattered operations runs from 17” to 20”. The winters, while going into the single digits on occasion are relatively mild compared to ranches further north, resulting in mostly mild winters producing usable cool season growth along with the dominant warm season plants.

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