Ranchers with rangeland in poor condition due to the droughts of recent years may want to consider a seeding program in the next couple of weeks to help speed up the restoration of the rangelands.

By seeding ranges that have deteriorated due to drought and overgrazing, range managers can again make them productive. Seeding is also usually a best management practice following root-plowing that is used for brush control.

Range seeding is usually done in late winter or early spring, and since seeding is expensive and the risk of failure is always present, careful attention must be given to a number of important factors. To begin, evaluate the quality of your current range, noting the distribution and number of desirable plants that are currently present.

If you find that desirable plants make up less than 10 to 15 percent of the vegetation, seeding is probably justified. If on the other hand, you have more than 10 to 15 percent of desirable plants, you can improve your rangeland with improved grazing management along with weed and brush management.

Seed only better sites to insure reasonable chances of success. Steep, potentially erosive sites should not be disturbed. Species and varieties of plants selected for seeding must be adapted to the area's soil, climate, and topography. Moreover, plants selected should be easily established, palatable to animals, productive, able to withstand invasion by undesirable plants, and able to withstand moderate grazing pressure, while at the same time prevent erosion.

As far as the seeding operation is concerned, plant into a well prepared seedbed that is firm below the seeding depth, and free from live plant competition. The two most common methods of seeding rangeland are broadcast and drill.

Broadcasting places seed on the soil surface while drilling places seed into the soil. Drilling is the best method, however due to rough rangeland, broadcast seeding by aerial or ground application is the most common method used.

A newly seeded area will need protection from grazing until the seedlings are established. With good growing conditions, deferment through one growing season may be adequate, however during periods of poor growing conditions, more time may be needed to help get the newly seeded area established. Weed control may also be needed during the first growing season to allow the seeded species to become established.

Information on plants adapted to your local area can be obtained from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Bookstore online at http://agrilifebookstore.org/ by loading the publication on Seeding Rangeland, or visit with your local County Extension Agent.

Pasture symposium - March 12

With above normal rainfall this winter, spring pastures will soon rebound, with a dense stand of unwanted weeds, in many cases, which is often the situation following a severe drought. All beef cattle producers know that to grow beef one has to grow grass.

To help address issues related to bringing our pastures back to life in a productive fashion, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Nueces and San Patricio Counties will host the Coastal Bend Pasture Symposium, on March 12 at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at 10345 State Highway 44, just west of the Corpus Christi International Airport.

Registration will begin at 8:15 a.m. followed by the program at 8:30 a.m.

Topics for the morning session will include: establishing improved pastures, adapted forage varieties, forage nutrient management, pasture weed identification and control, managing pastures with prescribed burns, and information about the Coastal Bend Prescribed Burn Association.

Following a catered lunch, the afternoon session will begin at 12:45 p.m. Topics will include; stocking rate determination to maintain forage stands and water quality, producing quality hay, native vs. improved pasture, managing forage insects, and risk management options.

Forage experts that will be making presentations include: Jamie Foster, Assistant Professor of Forage Agronomy with Texas AgriLife Research, Vanessa Corriher, Extension Forage Specialist, Lynn Drawe, President of Texas Prescribed Burn Board, Bob Lyons, Extension Range Specialist, Roy Parker, Extension Entomologist, and Larry Falconer, Extension Economist.

Pesticide applicators will be awarded 5.25 continuing education credits for participation in the symposium, while Certified Crop Advisors will be awarded six CEUs. To aid with program planning, all participants are requested to pre-register by March 8 by calling (361) 767-5223. There will be a registration fee of $10 per person payable at the door to help offset meal costs.

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.