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Mowing when its dry

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  • Mowing when its dry

    So everyone says to mow your pastures to ensure good root growth and prevent/eliminate weeds. I do this...but only in the spring and fall when growth is going well. Right now, if you forget about the freak 7.9" rain event we had last Saturday, we've been really, really dry, so I haven't mowed my fields, preferring to leave some standing plants.

    Did I do the right thing? Or should I mow anyway even though regrowth is likely to be very limited for the next 3-4 weeks until we hit fall (and the rains hopefully pick up). For what its worth, I'm in Virginia.
    Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

  • #2
    I'm no expert, but I never mow my fields when it is dry. I'm afraid it would make the grass turn brown, which is not what I'm after. If it is really dry then usually there isn't much growth, so the need to mow is not as great.

    Why do you need to mow? Are there weeds towering over the grass? If only a few, like thistles, I have hand chopped them down.
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    • #3
      The most important thing I have found to keep my pastures nice is to not let the weeds go to seed. So if it's dry and the weeds don't have seed heads on them you are probably ok.
      If they have seed heads, I would cut it, but cut it high. Otherwise as soon as you get some rain those weed seeds are going to jump off and you'll have a mess.
      If you can keep the weeds from seeding and cut it high, eventually the grass will choke out the weeds.
      That and regular dragging seems to be the trick for me.

      If the weeds don't have seed heads yet then I would leave it be.
      "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


      • #4
        We only mow if the weeds are taking over or are ready to drop their seeds. Usually we do spring and fall because normally it is pretty dormant unless you are getting a lot of rain regularly ( we are). This is how we have done it in Missouri and Minnesota and our pastures grow very well. I would think mowing a pasture when it is really dry would stress the grass.


        • #5
          The other risk of mowing when it is dry is starting a fire. A blade hitting rock will cause a spark. And if you are anywhere near as dry as we are in OK, that is enough to set a field on fire.
          So if you do mow, definitely mow high. (Right now we don't have enough growth to mow high!!)


          • #6
            Originally posted by MeghanDACVA View Post
            The other risk of mowing when it is dry is starting a fire. A blade hitting rock will cause a spark. And if you are anywhere near as dry as we are in OK, that is enough to set a field on fire.
            So if you do mow, definitely mow high. (Right now we don't have enough growth to mow high!!)
            This is true. Grass getting on a hot tractor manifold will start a fire as well. We had a tractor and hay bailer burn up in the meadow behind my house one summer. Grass had gotten caught up on the manifold. We were lucky the wind wasn't blowing toward the house or we might have lost it. My daughter was about 8 at the time. Gotta brag, she helped me feed the hose over the fence so I could start fighting the fire and then went and got all the dogs out of the house. Was cool as a cucumber the whole time.
            I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.


            • #7
              Yep, I "mowed" 3-4 weeks ago to chop the tops of weeds. Most of the grass was untouched, though the tallest grass in the shadier, lower portions of the pasture got a little haircut which they needed.
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • #8
                Originally posted by JB View Post
                Yep, I "mowed" 3-4 weeks ago to chop the tops of weeds. Most of the grass was untouched, though the tallest grass in the shadier, lower portions of the pasture got a little haircut which they needed.
                Ditto this but generally have mowed about every couple wks to take the tops off the weeds before they go to seed, but also managed to mow about 1/2" of grass from the toilet areas. Hey, they are well fertilized, green, still growing without any rain, and the horses don't eat there.

                Now that said, while we've had a very dry summer it's nothing like those in the south and mid west have had.

                I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                • #9
                  Mowing here (desert, no irrigation rights) in the summer results in starting fires. I use goats instead.
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                  • #10
                    I mow my fields when it is dry as a bone, or wet enough to drive through water.

                    I have had no problems either way.

                    I have almost 1k hours on my Kubota, most all mowing.

                    If it is really dry mow higher than normal.

                    Remember, your pasture is not a golf course nor your front lawn. Get off and look and see how low or high you are mowing. After some time you will be able to eye ball it and know the correct length.

                    Depending on weather conditions you may have to mow longer one time and shorter the next.

                    Never mow too short.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MeghanDACVA View Post
                      The other risk of mowing when it is dry is starting a fire. A blade hitting rock will cause a spark. And if you are anywhere near as dry as we are in OK, that is enough to set a field on fire.
                      So if you do mow, definitely mow high. (Right now we don't have enough growth to mow high!!)
                      my neighbor had 1/2 of his hayfields burnt up, along with his equipment, back in April due to a fire which sparked from another neighbor brush hogging his pasture next door. be VERY VERY careful.