Fall is the season for harvest. As you prepare for the oncoming snowy season, you’ll want to keep these fall ranch management tips in mind.
As experts in ranching and ranch real estate, we walk the walk. As fellow ranchers, Harrigan Land wants to see you succeed with your dream ranch. These tips are a starting point for conversations and strategies to have with your ranching team.
Communicate with Your Ranch Management Team
The key to owning a successful ranch is hiring the right team to help you out. Should you choose to hire a ranch manager (and most larger ranches do), then you want to make sure you have a clear plan with your ranch management team.
Sit down and meet frequently to discuss land management strategies and tactics to keep your land healthy and happy. Come up with a comprehensive ranch management plan and follow through. Track the results with your team and be flexible when things aren’t working out to plan.
Weed Control for Fall Ranch Management
One of the major aspects of fall ranch management is weed control. During the fall months, plants become weak, making it easy to eliminate weeds. First, identify weeds in your pasture and then come up with a plan of attack. Remember if you’re using herbicides, be sure to apply them prior to the first frost for best results.
Additionally, you’ll want to mow and clip pastures. After a long growing season mowing pastures creates a healthy balance of nutrients in the soil. Not to mention, it helps with weed control since it prevents weeds from seeding and creating a bigger problem.
Prep Pastures for Winter
Pasture prep is essential for a healthy fall ranch management plan. After you mow, drag your pastures and spread manure. This recycles nutrients into the soil. Over winter, the nutrients decompose and sink in, creating a healthier soil for the oncoming spring.
Dragging also upheavals parasite eggs, which kills off pesky bugs that can ruin a healthy pasture. Soil quality is an essential piece of ranch management. It not only provides a healthy base for the good grasses to grow, but as a result, it attracts wildlife and keeps animal herds healthy. Test your soil’s PH level and adjust as needed every 2 to 3 years.
Don’t exhaust your pastures (and hard work) by keeping stock animals in the same plot. Use the fall season as an excuse to rotate pastures and work on what’s been used that previous season. Work with your ranch management team to create a rest and rotation plan that keeps your pastures in tip-top shape.
Seeding and Fertilizing
Since the soil temperatures tend to be warmer in fall, it’s the perfect season for seeding. Seed your pastures as a part of your fall ranch management plan to promote quick germination and help eliminate weed growth.
You’ll also want to fertilize and apply line as needed. A fall fertilization schedule creates a hardier pasture that can survive harsh winters. Fertilization needs vary from pasture to pasture, but your soil test should help you determine exactly which mix of fertilizer and lime you need.
Review Your Stocking Rates
Over the course of the year, your livestock numbers have likely changed. In fall, it’s time to evaluate your stocking rates. If you have more animals than your pasture can hold, then you might experience a negative impact on plant growth. Take a realistic look at your forage requirements and stock numbers and adjust accordingly.
Prep Ahead for Spring
After you’ve worked through your to-do list for your fall ranch management plan, start thinking about spring. Is there any maintenance that needs to be done before spring sets in? Do buildings or equipment need upgrades? What about your numbers and income?
Now is the time to evaluate your year and make plans for spring. Again, keep your ranch management team on the same page. Work together to develop a plan that works for your ranch.
Overall, a fall ranch management plan is an essential step towards having a healthy, happy ranch. Follow these steps and develop a maintenance routine that will keep your ranch working well for years to come.