best time to harrow
I have some pasture near Eugene that's very rough from horse hoof indentations (last winter). I was thinking of harrowing part of the land to smooth it out. 1) Is there a best season to do this? Should the ground be damp or dry? 2) Would grass need to be reseeded after harrowing or will it come back naturally? In the winter our land is VERY wet with many rivulets running through it from uphill. I have read one article on reseeding, but I'm not sure that's what I would need to do. (The article recommended fall seeding of something like "tall fescue" for ground that's saturated in the fall/winter/spring.) [http://extension.oregonstate.edu/yamhill/sites/default/files/eb_1870_pasture_and_hayland_renovation.pdf] Thanks for any further info you can provide!
Lane County Oregon
A harrow may help smooth out the area, depending on how severely the soil is compacted. If your soil is moist, but not saturated, it should be OK to harrow now, you wouldn't want to further compact the soil with tractor movement if the soil it too wet to support it's weight. A harrow basically rakes the soil, root damage of grass is minimal, though the grass plants may be forming new tillers that could be broken off with the machinery.
It is late in the season to plant grass seed and have adequate cover before the weather turn colder and the plants go dormant for the winter. If you are interested in renovating your pasture, including working up the soil, it would be best to wait and plan to re-seed next September. Tall fescue is the forage species that is most drought tolerant in the summer and can also tolerate saturated soil conditions in the winter.
Here are two more resources that you might find useful:
Managing Small-acreage Horse Farms for Green Pastures, Clean Water, and Healthy Horses
Frequently asked question: What is the best way to renovate my pasture?
I will be teaching a pasture and grazing management class in Walterville tomorrow (Thursday evening 6-8PM). It's not too late to register for that at: http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/southern-willamette-valley-program/living-land-workshop-series
You are also welcome to contact me directly if you'd like to discuss your property in further detail.