Pasture Renovation in the Fall

Author: Melissa Fery

Publish Date: Spring 2008

Renovating and reseeding a pasture requires time, money, and a little luck. If you begin the planning process this spring, you’ll save yourself from trying to make hasty last minute decisions in the fall. Non-irrigated, Western Oregon pastures are typically planted in early September to early October, depending on weather conditions, but preparation begins now.

The renovation options that await you are numerous and diverse. From killing your existing pasture in the spring and leaving the land fallow all summer, to intensively mowing the pasture or periodically  disking the soil to reduce weed pressure, preparing a good seedbed should be a top priority.

This is the season to take soils samples from your fields for analysis. Prior to renovation is a perfect time to evaluate the soil’s fertility and apply needed nutrients. Many soils have an acidic pH, which would benefit from incorporating lime before seeding. White clover, a common pasture legume, prefers a soil pH near 6.5.

For long-term success of a planting, select grass and legume varieties that are adapted for the property’s soil conditions and intended use. For example, plants suited for a field that will be grazed and cut for hay are different than plants for an exercise area. In general, ryegrass tolerates somewhat poorly drained soils, but orchardgrass prefers welldrained soils and tall fescue varieties are adapted to most soil conditions.

Selecting which fields to renovate and how that will affect your grazing system is another consideration. Generally, it is recommended to renovate no more than 25% of your fields or acres in a given year to allow for grazing the remaining acreage. A newly planted pasture should be given a year to become established before animals graze.

Perhaps most importantly, evaluate your current pasture management and determine ways to improve. If you feel the only solution to a better pasture is to finance a complete renovation, also be ready to implement good management practices so the new seeding is a long-term investment.

To explore options in detail download the free Extension publication “Pasture and Hayland Renovation for Western Washington and Oregon”.