Grazing pastures noticeably short, while sometimes unavoidable, is not the best policy -even within a sound graze-rest program. The energy needed to provide the grass plant the ‘jump start’ that is needed to produce new growth after grazing is critical to rangeland health and the recovery from a grazing event. Question is: Where is that needed energy stored within the grass plant that is needed for recovery from grazing-fire-trampling-even mowing? The first assumption is the root system, but researchers have found that the stems, rhizomes and stolons are also involved in that reserve energy storage, not to mention the growth nodes of each particular species of grass. Some of which are at the ligule or juncture of the stem and leaf. Some would say do not graze the plant at all, that is a severe mistake in that it will die from lack of use. Creating the beginnings of a desert, primarily in dry low humidity areas.
Each family of grass seems to have its own way of surviving, some like Texas Bluegrass and Texas cup grass. Being bunch grasses, if grazed to the ground are extremely slow in putting on new growth when rainfall and or springtime permits a flush of greening. (Seem to green up and just ‘sit’ there producing little growth for considerable time. While their cousins that were not grazed close to the ground quickly put on new growth and flourish.) Others, like Buffalo grass seem to tolerate close grazing better, possibly because of the rhizomes it produces that grazing animals and fire cannot get to.
The net result of this little course in grass growth is to show the importance of utilizing a rangeland management program that encourages healthy root systems and above ground plant structure. Those managers that can produce this healthy ecosystem find themselves much more profitable due to the drought resistance and quick growth when the rains do come.
Excelling in grass land management is not a one approach fits all. It is a process that must address many factors.
Within the video link below find an excellent description of how this process works and a bible verse that is very descriptive of the process.
7 But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
First photo shows Texas Bluegrass that was grazed noticeably short in the fall. While showing to be healthy and growing it has achieved little leaf length when compared to the next photo of TBG that was not grazed short last fall.
Photos were taken same day, zoom in and notice the shape of the tips of the leaves. Pointed and cupped like the keel of a boat. An easy identifying characteristic of Texas Bluegrass.