Pasture Establishment

Asked May 7, 2013, 1:52 PM EDT

I am trying to convert a one acre piece of land from Christmas tree production to pasture (for horses and goats). The trees are gone and stumps are pulled but can you please recommend the proper steps to establish a healthy, weed-free pasture? I had read that spring was an appropriate time to do this but with this hot, dry spring I wonder if I have missed my window of opportunity this spring? I'd love to get it planted if it's still an option. Thank you for your help.

Clackamas County Oregon pastures and forages pasture small farms forage

2 Responses

This is a good time to plan how you are going to establish a pasture. Yes, spring is a good time to establish your pasture when the weather is cooperating and there is adequate moisture to get the plants growing, but this year waiting until the fall rains or even next spring would be a better option. In the meantime, preparing the field for planting can be done anytime. Since the field was in Christmas trees, the pH of the soil is probably too acid for healthy vigorous pastures so taking a soil sample and having it tested (mainly for pH) would be the first thing to do. If the pH is low, lime needs to be added and worked into the soil profile before the field is planted. Here are some publication links at the OSU Extension Publications website on how to take a soil test, where to send and how to interpret the information. Any labs in the Pacific Northwest are fine. Also, having the field fallow for awhile will allow time for you to start controlling weeds that will germinate this season. Taking a soil sample (Publication EC 628): http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/18696/ec628.pdf Where to send soil sample (Publication EM 8677): http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/20037/em8677.pdf What the tests mean (publication EC1478): http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/22023/ec1478.pdf There are also very helpful books on pastures I would recommend. Pasture management: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/19670/ec1558.pdf One that was recently published by Extension - Pasture and Grazing Management in the Northwest. This book can be purchased ($18) or downloaded for free! To download or purchase - here is the link address: http://www.cals.uidaho.edu/edComm/pdf/PNW/PNW0614.pdf . It is a fairly big file (5MB) and is in PDF form. These information in these publications should help you get on your way to a productive pasture. Hope this helps some. Tom

Thank you very much for your response. I will absolutely check out those publications and see what we can do about getting a healthy pasture established following those recommendations. Thank you again.