Have you notice that the days are getting shorter? I started cutting my grass at my usually late afternoon hour last week and was unable to complete the task before it got too dark to see. Although it is still plenty hot, that tells me fall is on the way.
One of the fall tasks that needs attention is getting ready for planting winter pastures and cool season wildlife food plots. If you have not taken your soil sample there is still time but you will need to hurry.
In south Louisiana you can plant oats as early as September 15th and then cereal rye, ryegrass and wheat as early as September 20th.
This may not be the year to jump out there and plant too early. Armyworms were as bad as I have ever seen them last fall and they have continued to ravage tender summer grasses such as crabgrass all summer long. In addition I am seeing a lot of moths flying and we have captured armyworm moths in traps over the past 2 weeks locally. The generations of armyworms will usually start to decline as the fall progresses but last year armyworms were active through December and one local farmer sprayed for armyworms December 19th.
If you are going to plant cool season forages have a strategy for scouting and spraying as it only takes a few days for armyworms to devour a pasture.
I prefer to plant on a prepared seed bed from October 1st through October 15th. You can certainly plant later than October 15th but it is important to get a good root system developed before it turns off cold.
For livestock producers ryegrass is usually the preferred winter pasture. LSU recommended ryegrass varieties include Attain, Big Boss, Diamond T, Earlyploid, Flying A, Gulf, Fria, Jackson, Jumbo, Marshall, Nelson Tetraploid, Passerel Plus, Prine, TAMTBO and Winterhawk. Promising varieties include Andes, Lonestar and Tetrastar.
Ryegrass seed is recommended to be planting at a rate of 30-40 pounds per acre when planted alone or 20 pounds when planted in a mixture.
Most deer hunter prefer to plant other winter forages such as oats, wheat or cereal rye and then add clovers to one of these. Oats are planted at 100 pound per acre alone and 60 pounds in a mix. Recommended oat varieties include RAM LA 99016 and promising varieties are TAMO 411 and TAMO 606.
Cereal rye and wheat are both planted at 90 pounds per acre when planted alone or 50-60 pounds when planted in a mix. Recommended cereal rye varieties include Elbon, Maton, Maton II, Oklon and Wintergrazer 70. LSU has not tested any forage wheat varieties in recent years.
Clovers add a lot of quality to your winter pastures and both red and white clovers work well in our soils. White clover is planted at 5 pounds per acre alone or 3 pounds in a mix, while red clover is planted at 12 pounds alone or 8 pounds alone.
Recommended white clover varieties include LA S-1, Osceola, Regalgraze, Pinnacle, Durana and Neches. Recommended red clover varieties include Kenland, Kenstar, Cherokee, Southern Bells and AU Red Ace.
Be sure to add the inoculation pack to your clovers before planting so they will have the bacteria that help them to fix nitrogen.
Kenny Sharpe is county agent with the LSU Cooperative Extension Service in Livingston Parish. For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.