What are some of the best pasture grasses/mixes for three 1/2 horse pastures in Garfield County that are at approx 6250 feet and are watered as needed from Four Mile Creek through West Divide Water? What are the best characteristics of each? Are any of them available through the county/extension? And finally, when is the best time to 'overseed' the thin areas in the pastures? Thank you.
Garfield County Colorado pastures and forages
Irrigation is the key to establishing grass in your pastures. If you have irrigation most of the summer you can plant latter in the summer. If your irrigation stops, in say July, and you have limited rain you will want to plant in time to get two or three irrigations on your seeding before the irrigation stops for the season. If you get rain in the mid-late summer you can think about that as well.
If you can plant in May or June you have time for the plant roots to establish and develop root reserves to carry through the following winter. If there is irrigation later in the summer you can plant later. At the latest you should plant before about mid-September. You will want about 45 days of growth before the plants stop growing for the year.
Don't graze the grass until the following year. The roots may not be strong enough to hold into the ground if they are pulled on by animals.
Grasses I would recommend are:
Meadow Brome - Regar Variety - 3 lb/acre
Smooth Brome - Manchar or Lincoln Varieties - 4 lb/acre
Western Wheatgrass - Barton or Arriba or Rosanna Varieties - 3 lb/acre
If overseeding plant as early as possible (May-August) but before September.
You can add clove or alfalfa. My experience is that horses hit the legumes hard and they don't last as long in the pasture so I don't recommend them.
Grass varieties are not available from Extension. Contact your local Agriculture Cooperative or Farm Supply store. They should be able to order for you.
The grasses recommended are all grasses that have good recovery from grazing, are drought tolerant but do well when wet. They should establish well and provide good yields and have good winter hardiness.
I am including a link to the URL to the Colorado Forage Guide. This guide may provide more information that will help you.
If you have any questions, contact your Garfield County Extension Office or eXtension.