Impacts of Fall and Winter Grazing on Spring Regrowth

It might be early February, but I’m already thinking about new spring forage growth and I guarantee the livestock are too. In the past, we’ve discussed the impact of fall management on the next spring growth and production, but how much impact does it really have? There are a lot of factors that influence spring forage growth. Let’s take a look at some of these factors and then perhaps come to a better understanding of what we can impact. The Importance of Dormancy During the growing season, forages use photosynthesis to change carbon dioxide, water and inorganic salts into carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are used by the plant or are stored for winter hibernation. In the fall, forages move these “sugars” down into the roots to provide energy for winter months and spring regrowth. Plants need to go into dormancy to conserve energy and therefore dormancy is a mechanism that is vital to plant survival. It usually requires several nights in a row of temperatures of 25 degrees F before plants go dormant. So, in mild winters like ours here in Indiana this year, I actually question if we have truly ever reached full dormancy with a lot of forages. I’m a bit surprised to still see what I think is new growth on some hardier species, especially tall fescue. At this time of year, this is a bit unusual and dependent on location and most certainly

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