How to manage Wet Reed Canary meadows?

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Stocker Steve

Well-known member
May 2, 2005
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Central Minnesota
I have fenced in some low clay fields that contain mostly reed canary, with clover and timothy on the higher spots. Traditionally they were hayed once in July producing a lot of stemmy headed out course hay. Last year we hayed all but the lowest peaty areas in mid June and then grazed the regrowth in August. The tractor tires came up wet while haying, and the amount of hay was greatly reduced compared to a July cutting, but the August grazing was high quality and timely.

Have you seen success with short rotation grazing of stockers or cows on wet reed canary meadows? How long were they left on the paddock before plugging was a concern? I would prefer to start grazing them in June during an average rainfall year without plugging.
Yes I have some of that. Pugging is always an issue because this ground can have standing water 12 months out of the year although it is generally dry on the surface from mid June to mid September. there is about 4 inches of top soil and then It goes to blue clay that the water just sits on top of. They gave up cutting hay there years ago because it was too wet. For me the rent is cheap because no one wanted it. I don't worry about the pugging and just shut my eyes graze it. When I cross fenced it I made sure there was a patch of dry ground in each field so the cows have a dry place to go lay down. But some times it is like grazing water buffalo. It puggs up and can be the pits to even walk across at times. If I can get the cows across it early enough it makes real good feed. But it has continued to grow grass and I have been using it for 5 years now. I haven't noticed an increase or decrease in the amount of grass it produces.

Do you know if it is common or an improved canarygrass? Just curious. I have no experience with it, but like you, everything I've read says the nutritional content goes to the basement once it sets seeds. I'm sure that's why you are trying to graze it earlier.