Mow pastures or not?

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Morgan County

It’s likely best to not mow until precipitation returns.

A tough question developing on many farms right now is if we should start mowing pastures. Clipped pastures reduce eye irritation on the cows, makes for a less favorable environment for ticks, and stimulates new leaf growth. However, the pastures in my area are still green and if we mow them now without adequate moisture, I fear they will turn brown and go dormant sooner. Hay fields I have seen that were mowed last week are yet to initiate new growth and that could be the same case if we mowed pastures right now.

If we wait to mow, more vegetation on the surface will keep the soil cooler and hold moisture better and even have some mature forages that could still be grazed if needed. I am not sure what the right answer is for you but if the pastures have been heavily grazed and there are primarily weeds growing, I see an argument to mow pastures. If the vegetation is primarily grasses and legumes, I see a good argument to wait to mow.

For me, I have a lot of standing grass in many of my paddocks and the weeds are not too bad, so I will wait, and if the forecast starts to call for an increased chance of rain, we will start mowing. I think this is the classic case of not deciding right from wrong, but deciding which wrong is most right. Hopefully rain will return soon and make this a moot point.