Check Condition Of Recovering Forage Stands

The late winter and early spring period is a good time to evaluate existing hay and pasture stands for winter injury. Iowa State University forage specialist Steve Barnhart offers guidelines on how to decide whether or not to keep an existing stand.

Published on: Mar 19, 2011

Most forage crops are planted and managed as perennial crops, notes Steve Barnhart, Iowa State University Extension forage agronomist. With careful selection, grass and legume species and varieties can be planted that are capable of surviving normal Iowa winters. However, even with good fertility and fall harvest management or grazing management, some plants, and sometimes even entire stands, can be damaged during the winter. 

Late winter and early spring is a good time to evaluate existing hay and pasture stands for winter injury.

Splitting the taproots of plants is the recommended way to evaluate the general health of an alfalfa stand.
Splitting the taproots of plants is the recommended way to evaluate the general health of an alfalfa stand.

You can refer to a previous ICM News article, Evaluating Hay & Pasture Stands for Winter Injury, for guidelines to evaluate stands. In the article, Barnhart discusses in more detail some of the assessment methods you can use.