Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems
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Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952
Plants need to be given an adequate rest period to regrow and accumulate storage reserves. In early spring when forage is rapidly growing the rest period can be as short as 10 to 14 days, and during the hot summer months when growth isn’t as rapid it may take up to 4 to 6 weeks.
Grasses regrow using energy from the leaf area remaining after leaves have been eaten by an animal or cut by machine, and by mobilizing stored root carbohydrates to support growth of new tillers or leaves from the base of the plant.
Legumes are more dependent on stored carbohydrates for regrowth because they are not as dependent on remaining leaf area for regrowth as grasses are. Legume stems are composed of the growing point, stem, leaves, node, and axillary buds in comparison to the tillers in grasses.
Regardless of the forage species, a healthy root system that allows a plant to store carbohydrates, take up water and nutrients, and anchor itself to the ground is important. Avoiding overgrazing of pastures, keeps root systems healthy and productive.
Managing to maintain both adequate carbohydrate reserves from root or stubble and proper residual leaf area will maximize regrowth rates of forage plants.
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