Stockpiling Tall Fescue

Stockpiling is growing pasture for later use. This typically means applying nitrogen (N) to tall fescue pastures in August, letting them grow through the fall, and then grazing during the late fall and early winter. Kentucky bluegrass and other cool-season grasses will also respond to nitrogen applications in the fall, but here we'll focus on tall fescue since it shows a higher nitrogen response and stockpiles better for winter grazing. Getting Started The best pastures to target are those with the thickest stands of fescue. Fescue responds extremely well to N applications in late summer and has an amazing ability to retain its nutrient value through the winter. Targeted pastures should have low concentrations of weeds and low amounts of clover since legumes do not stockpile well after frost and the yield benefit of added N is less than in pure fescue stands. Graze or mow your pastures to 2 to 3 inches during early to mid-August. Remove animals before overgrazing occurs or initial regrowth will be slow. Grazing or mowing removes low quality summer growth and allows the plant to produce high quality leaves. Assuming that there is adequate soil moisture, a considerable amount of growth will occur within four to six weeks, but waiting 8 to 12 weeks before grazing is preferable. About Nitrogen and Timing Its Application Tall fescue growth will occur without added nitrogen, but adding nitrogen provides maximum growth and forage quality. In Kentucky, nit

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