Here is one of the best grassland videos I have seen, describing growth and utilization of native grasses. One might think; “How does a grazing video produced in Tennessee have any relevance to my drought stricken ranching operation?” It provides a good description of how grasses grow and how different grazing practices effect that growth. While watching and learning from this University of Tennessee production produced August 14, 2019 remind yourself that the information you are receiving can be applied to your operation even during the ongoing drought. If totally destocked, preparing to do so or holding out for that life giving rain and planning for the future of your operation, know that it will get better and when it does those that have properly prepared for the improved rangeland conditions will find themselves at the top of the ranching profitability curve.
An exceptional specimen of winter dormant Southwestern Bristle Grass. (Several other SW Bristle grasses are visible within picture along with Indian Grass, perhaps long-time survivors, or seedlings from a time long ago prior to Europeans mans influence.) These have appeared along a creek that was formerly very dense cover of Blue Berry Cedar and regrowth oaks that burned some 11 years ago. Recently cleared of brush, the site has a long way to go in becoming a productive area for livestock and an environmentally significant site as to mineral, water and nutrient sequestering. There is little doubt that in short order, if the proper utilization of a well-planned graze-rest program is continued, this site will quickly become a productive part of the ecosystem. As I have previously noted the Southwestern is much more palatable, produces much more leaf, that is much wider than Plains Bristle’s leaves. As we move forward in our graze-rest-graze-rest management program the Southwestern is increasing at a considerable rate mainly within the eastern or slightly higher rainfall areas. This is a ‘up-and-comer’ in my book and is a very positive indication of better grazing conditions to come.
THE BETTER IT GETS THE FASTER IT BECOMES BETTER
Have been watching this area of Indian grass mixed within shin oak patch for some time. Over the last three years the Indian grass and occasionally some Little Bluestem has virtually filled all the open areas (interspacing) within the shin oak area. At one time this was a heavy Red-Blue Berry Cedar area with mixed oaks virtually no grass as density of brush would not allow it. Perhaps this Indian grass was a survivor of the past protected by the heavy cedar cover. The brush management (released) the Indian so that it could thrive within its new environment. Many times, the rangeland manager is not aware of the surviving plants from days gone by because of poor grazing management and the released grass is consumed and quickly killed by livestock under a continuous grazing program. However, when a well planed graze-rest program is in place (Preferably prior to brush management) the Indian grass can flourish and begin to revive the rangelands of old with dense populations of tall-deep rooted drought resistant grasses.
It will be interesting to watch and see whether the Indian grass or the shin oak dominates the area over time. Most would say the Indian has no chance as the shin oak is so aggressive. Perhaps an incorrect assumption with the current grazing program. We will see.
The current blessing of the prolonged ‘wet’ spell is perhaps the best grass growing episode in memory. (Some 6 weeks of continual green-growing plant life, this doesn’t happen in this area often) Little weed competition, adequate rains (Nothing big, just slow soaking moisture on a regular basis), warm weather but not to hot until this week and rangeland that has been properly grazed with a well-planned graze-rest program.
The Vine-Mesquite (Some call it spaghetti grass because of the runners that hang from the cattle’s mouths as it is eagerly grazed) along with Buffalo grass has certainly taken advantage of conditions to send their stolon’s (runners) out in all directions to establish themselves on new territory. Close observation reveals many seedlings of very desirable grasses and the Big Four of forbs are also showing great response of this amazing episode in rangeland recovery.
Oh, what a productive life they will lead with the tender loving care provided by their grazing managers utilization of a well-planned and applied grazing program. Much the same, my grandson Brant’s life will be amazing to watch as he grows and learns from the tender loving care given by his parents, grandparents and the many others that are close to him. Hopefully becoming the 6th generation of ranchmen on the Price outfit.
One of the largest areas of dominantly Vine Mesquite I have seen.