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Sandy Soil Pasture

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My folks have a place that has been in cotton for awhile (leased.) we’ve always talked about converting to pasture but never get around to it.

curious what y’all would consider implementing in this situation. This is southern Eastland county, TX. Very deep sand, mostly fine sandy loam soils. The natural answer seems to be sprigging Bermuda, but wanting to see what else we should consider. Place is about 120 acres of tillable land.

we’ve also talked about seeding back to native prairie and hand picking grasses that do better in the sand. I’m not a huge fan of grazing Bermuda which would be the principal use, always chasing fertility especially around here. Either scenario is difficult to pencil out but nevertheless curious what y’all think and if we are overlooking something?
 

bird dog

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Your land is in a nice area. I marvel at how much good hay they make out there when I venture out to fish at Lake Leon.

If you are just going to graze it, Burno's idea is good but I like yours as well. Some blue stems and indian grass would be hard to beat.

Turner seed which is close to you has some mixes that might be what you are looking for if you decide to not do the Bernmuda.

 
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Your land is in a nice area. I marvel at how much good hay they make out there when I venture out to fish at Lake Leon.

If you are just going to graze it, Burno's idea is good but I like yours as well. Some blue stems and indian grass would be hard to beat.

Turner seed which is close to you has some mixes that might be what you are looking for if you decide to not do the Bernmuda.

Thanks for the link bird dog. I have had good luck with turner in the past. I’d certainly have no complaints if I could have a good balance of big blue.

Yes there is a lot of good hay ground around the area. I just can’t bring myself to sprig whenever I’ve got myself convinced it’s the right idea. Too many inputs at the end of the day.
 

BC

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There are trade offs. How many cattle do you plan to run. Stocking rates with bermuda are higher than native grasses. Native grasses have to be managed and rested to maintain the stand. I graze on a mix of bermuda and bahia. I stock lighter than most of my neighbors who run a cow to 2 to 3 acres. I run a cow to 4 to 5 acres and just spray the weeds. I do fertilize one hay field.
 

wbvs58

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Over here on that sort of country a lot of people me included are planting sub tropical pasture in particular Premier Digit grass (Smuts finger grass). It handles the acid sandy soils very well, is summer growing and kicks really fast on small rainfalls over summer. It recruits very well and poor stands will thicken up. Some paddocks are still going strong after 30 years. This is probably not relevant to you but may be of interest.

Ken
 
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There are trade offs. How many cattle do you plan to run. Stocking rates with bermuda are higher than native grasses. Native grasses have to be managed and rested to maintain the stand. I graze on a mix of bermuda and bahia. I stock lighter than most of my neighbors who run a cow to 2 to 3 acres. I run a cow to 4 to 5 acres and just spray the weeds. I do fertilize one hay field.
BC, I appreciate the insight. We do have some land in coastal nearby and a portion of it we primarily graze. Try to keep the ph right and just spray for weeds in the spring. What my Dad and I have pondered for awhile is if the unfertilized coastal Is really outperforming a good stand of natives, which further begs the question of profitability per acre vs beef per acre since the natives get by on less.

maybe the answer is to do some of each. Thanks again.
 
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Over here on that sort of country a lot of people me included are planting sub tropical pasture in particular Premier Digit grass (Smuts finger grass). It handles the acid sandy soils very well, is summer growing and kicks really fast on small rainfalls over summer. It recruits very well and poor stands will thicken up. Some paddocks are still going strong after 30 years. This is probably not relevant to you but may be of interest.

Ken
I did some digging on it just for fun - doesn’t look like anyone up here plants any and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one accused of bringing something new in even if it was easy lol it would tick a lot of boxes though!
 

Stocker Steve

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Higher input higher productivity improved pastures vs. lower productivity native pastures is an interesting comparison. It depends a lot on the profitability of your animals, their need for feed, and the cost/lb. of a renovation. Here - - it is usually more profitable to run stockers on improved pastures and cows on native pastures.

If you want to get complicated you can lay out the "forage chain" for a year. Then some improved pastures may be needed seasonally to reduce the use of higher cost stored feed like hay. We manage some improved pastures for fall and early winter grazing when our native pasture is not available.
 
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Higher input higher productivity improved pastures vs. lower productivity native pastures is an interesting comparison. It depends a lot on the profitability of your animals, their need for feed, and the cost/lb. of a renovation. Here - - it is usually more profitable to run stockers on improved pastures and cows on native pastures.

If you want to get complicated you can lay out the "forage chain" for a year. Then some improved pastures may be needed seasonally to reduce the use of higher cost stored feed like hay. We manage some improved pastures for fall and early winter grazing when our native pasture is not available.
Thank you for your insight Steve. I suppose it's always best not have all your eggs in one basket..
 
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I haven't got any hands on experience with Tifton - beyond taking a soil test every year or 2, is there an approximate amount of N that is typically used in a grazing setting? Even in good years we typically only bale once on the hay ground, so grazing becomes the primary use. I admit the numbers you see make T85 extremely tempting - just weary of always being in debt to the fert man.
 

Brute 23

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I haven't got any hands on experience with Tifton - beyond taking a soil test every year or 2, is there an approximate amount of N that is typically used in a grazing setting? Even in good years we typically only bale once on the hay ground, so grazing becomes the primary use. I admit the numbers you see make T85 extremely tempting - just weary of always being in debt to the fert man.
If you get a soil sample some one can probably help you better on how much fert it will require but in my experience its minimal and the production more than covers the cost. The amount of quality grass it produces is just amazing. Even in a drought like we are in now it is still the top performer. Its one of the first grasses to take off in the spring and last to brown out in the winter. Its great for both grazing and hay production and the hay is very marketable.

Our first tifton patch was an extremely sandy field that was only good for dove hunting and getting stuck like chuck. You could barely drive across it because it was blow sand and it turned to jelly when it was wet. Its one of the most productive hay fields now. The tifton thrived in it. We got the idea from out neighbor who has momma cows and brings in calves thru out the year. He planted his old peanut fields and had great results.
 
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If you get a soil sample some one can probably help you better on how much fert it will require but in my experience its minimal and the production more than covers the cost. The amount of quality grass it produces is just amazing. Even in a drought like we are in now it is still the top performer. Its one of the first grasses to take off in the spring and last to brown out in the winter. Its great for both grazing and hay production and the hay is very marketable.

Our first tifton patch was an extremely sandy field that was only good for dove hunting and getting stuck like chuck. You could barely drive across it because it was blow sand and it turned to jelly when it was wet. Its one of the most productive hay fields now. The tifton thrived in it. We got the idea from out neighbor who has momma cows and brings in calves thru out the year. He planted his old peanut fields and had great results.
Sounds very similar to a lot of the ground around here. My family first came here around the turn of the century to do just that.. farm peanuts.

I wonder if it would pay to keep the land in annuals for a year after the cotton plays out to help hold the soil and bring in some organic matter rather than trying to sprig immediately the following spring? Cotton can go pretty late here so I don’t see getting any wheat in the ground the first winter.
 

Brute 23

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Sounds very similar to a lot of the ground around here. My family first came here around the turn of the century to do just that.. farm peanuts.

I wonder if it would pay to keep the land in annuals for a year after the cotton plays out to help hold the soil and bring in some organic matter rather than trying to sprig immediately the following spring? Cotton can go pretty late here so I don’t see getting any wheat in the ground the first winter.
Some one else can maybe help you on that side to prep for sprigging. I'm not that familiar with cotton and what will build soils back up.
 

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