Cool Season Pasture Planning

Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  8/29/2018 6:41:53 PM


News article for August 27, 2018:

Some people say that Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. We know that in south Louisiana the heat will stay around for quite a while longer, but it reminds us that the long hot days of summer are dwindling.

For livestock producers, the shorter days mean that grass does not grow as fast and cooler nights will soon slow warm season pastures more. It is time to begin planning cool season pastures.

Ryegrass is the mainstay of most livestock producer’s winter forage. It requires better care than permanent pastures like Bahia and Bermuda grasses. To that end, you should get a soil sample before planting ryegrass. Just knowing your soil pH and how to correct any deficiencies is worth the money, but you get even more. Based on your soil analysis you can formulate a fertilizer plan that will meet the grasses needs but not over apply any nutrients that are already available. The money you will save will more than outweigh the $10 charge for the sample.

In south Louisiana we can plant oats as early as September 15th and then ryegrass, wheat and cereal rye as early as September 20th. Most deer hunters want to plant that early, but I would be inclined to wait until the first of October to plant livestock pastures.

There are too many problems with armyworms when you plant really early. Armyworms have been active all summer and that usually slows down after October 1st in most years. Another problem with early planting is a disease known as blast. We do not get it every year but when we do it can wipe out a lot of grass and it is worse on early plantings.

I see less problems with ryegrassplantedon a preparedseed bed fromOctober1stthrough October 15th andI personally like the 7th -15th when conditions allow.

The LSU AgCenter evaluates cool season forages annually for yield and then from 3 years of data makes variety recommendations. The recommended ryegrass varieties for the 2018-19 growing season includes Diamond T, DoubleDiamond, Earlyploid, Flying A, Herdsman, Jackson, Jumbo, Maximus, Nelson, Tetraploid, Passerel Plus,Prine, RM4L, Spicer, TAMTBO, Triangle T, Marshall and Winterhawk. Promising varieties that we do not have enough data to make a recommendation on yet would include Bashaw Tetraploid, Bashaw Diploid and FrostProof. We recommend that you plant ryegrass at 30-40 pounds per acre when planting alone and 20 pounds if planting in a mix with other forage species, such as clover.

Oats are planted at 100#/acre if alone and 60# pounds in a mix. Recommended oat varieties would include RAM LA 99016, TAMO 411 and TAMO 606. These are excellent choices for deer flood plots when clover is added.

Recommended cereal rye varieties would include Elbon, Maton, Maton II, Oklon and Wintergrazer 70. Cereal rye is planted at 90#/acre when planting alone or 50# in a mix.

Wheat is planted at 90# per acre when alone and 60# in a mix, but no forage wheat varieties were submitted for testing.

I have found white and red clover work best in our clay based pastures and food plots. White clover is mixed with other forages at the rate of 3#/acre. Recommended varieties include Osceola, LA S-1, Regalgraze, Pinnacle, Durana and Neches. Red clover is planted at 8#/acre in a mix and recommended varieties include Kenland, Kenstar, Cherokee, Southern Belle, AU Red Ace and Barduro.

For questions about these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at

Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture