How Do I Handle My Hay Fields and Pastures in Severe Drought?

First we need to clarify what sort of perennial forage stand we are managing.  The answer will be different for pure or very dominant legume or grass swards. Alfalfa and hay fields with high concentrations of alfalfa hay. After 30 days or so most alfalfa stands will want to start blooming.  Once we have 25% or more bloom, there will be little further growth even with good rains.  Leafhopper pressure is often present at a concentration over or nearly over the threshold for mitigation at this point.  Your best choice is to cut rather than spray and wait for the withholding time.  You should begin to sweep newly cut fields at 10 -14 days post cut to be sure that leafhopper pressure is not too great to preclude new regrowth as the rains come.  Ideally, you should be soil testing and have a fertility program in place.  If your cutting schedule has stayed on target up to this point in the season, stay with your fertility application schedule.  If you have not removed nutrients with frequent cuttings, hold off putting down new fertilizer applications.   Remember that potash and boron can be very limiting nutrients to a healthy, productive stand.  Even if old growth is so short that you cannot gather it up, your best option is to clip the stand and let it lie. When the rains return, you will be in a great position to capture the nutrients and grow a harvestable cutting. Grass Stand

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