Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flooded Pasture Renovations

Eric Mousel, Forage and Alfalfa Specialist, Millborn Seeds Inc.

For those of you that had pastures flood for extended periods of time this summer, you are not alone. It has been a very aggravating summer for a lot of people in South Dakota, but you can thank your lucky stars you don’t have land along the Missouri further south, it can only be described as disaster.
Even if you don’t live along the Mighty MO, the Big Sioux, James, and every creek, stream and tributary in between was out of its banks for a good portion of the summer. Prolonged exposure to the floodwaters caused a lot of acres of grass, alfalfa, and row-crops to be completely wiped-out or at least severely damaged.
I’ve looked at quite a bit of flooded pasture and hay ground this summer and fall and a lot of questions remain about what exactly to do with the acres that flooded out this year. The amazing thing is the response of different types of ground and vegetation to flooding. I’ve seen everything from complete vegetation kill to 7 foot tall weeds. The next few installments of SDR are going to deal with this topic specifically.
There are 5 major questions concerning flooded out pastures and hay ground:
1.       Did the flood water ruin the soil?
2.       What should I do with all of the sand and silt that washed in?
3.       Will the grass grow back or will it just grow weeds?
4.       Should I interseed new grass or alfalfa or do I need to start completely over?
5.       Should I drill new seed or blow it on?
I’ll get into specifics in the next few articles on SDR but suffice it to say that there is no cookbook recipe for managing the after effects of flooding. Each individual is going to have a unique situation based on soil type, vegetation, and severity of the flooding.
The solutions to regain full productivity of these acres also are going to be very individualized. Some will need to thicken the grass that remains, some will need to grow a cover crop to recondition the soil, some will need to start over.
Alfalfa acres also will need special attention in order to regain full productivity. Flood stress, disease, silting level, and age of the stand will all determine the appropriate management needed to restore full productivity.
So if you have damage to your grass pastures or alfalfa, you aren’t alone. Millborn Seeds Inc. will provide services to the entire 5-state region and beyond. Give me a call or email and let’s talk about what is needed to get your pastures and hay ground back to top productivity.
Thank you and have a great day!!

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