Drought tolerant pasture grass

Asked February 10, 2013, 7:09 PM EST

I have just purchased a property and looking at part of a pasture area (less than an acre), I am concerned that it was overgrazed as there was little ground cover showing. I would like to re-establish the ground cover that was there if it does not come back this spring. I do not have water on that lot nor do I anticipate putting water on it other than that which Mother Nature might provide this spring. I do have my fingres crossed that after this snow melts, I will go out there and see some wild grasses returning ... but want to be prepared for planting (hopefully without plowing etc.)

Natrona County Wyoming

1 Response

You are correct in waiting to see what is there. It is very possible that if the property has not been overgrazed for too many years there is still a viable native grass stand. Depending on the soil type the density of the stand will vary, i.e., if the soil is fine textured and of low quality the stand will not be very dense even if you receive above average spring precipitation. If a planting is deemed necessary you could do so with a rangeland type drill without having to plow first. These drills are made to seed into non-tilled land. The Natrona County Conservation District (NCCD) might know how does range plantings in your area. You can also broadcast seed but it takes twice as much and you want to followup with a drag of some type to help increase seed to soil contact. Assuming you are wanting to plant native grasses the following would be recommended: Slender wheatgrass (no more than 20% of the mix), prairie Junegrass, green needlegrass, and thickspike wheatgrass. Your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office (most likely located w/NCCD) can also help you in this as they can tell you what your soil type is and what native grasses are already in the vicinity. I would wait until summer before you make an assessment as to whether a planting is needed. If it is decided that it is needed you would want to wait until late fall/winter/early spring before you seed. Summer seedings without irrigation in this country are generally failures.