Converting Cool Season Pasture Grass to Native Warm Season Grass

Cool season grass has long been popular throughout much of the US where it can be found everywhere from lawns to farm fields. While cool season grass thrives in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild and moisture is prevalent, it struggles in the hot dry summer months.

Native warm season grass (or NWSG), on the other hand, is highly resilient even in extreme heat and droughts. With its deep roots, abundant growth, and resistance to disease, NWSG offers many distinct advantages, particularly to landowners and cattle producers.

Advantages of NWSG Over Cool Season Grass 

NWSG is self-sustaining, even hot, dry-seasons, but its adaptability is hardly its only advantage. Cool season grasses like tall fescue are vulnerable to bacteria and fungus such as endophyte.

While endophyte doesn’t damage the grass itself, it can cause problems for wildlife consuming the grass. For those raising cattle and other livestock, this is a serious issue. Negative side-effects of consuming endophyte include:

  • Feet and leg issues
  • Weight gain (or loss)
  • Reduced milk production
  • Digestive issues
  • Low rates of reproduction
  • And more

It’s estimated that toxic fescue results in as much as $1 billion in profit loss annually for the livestock industry.

NWSG, however, is immune to toxic fungus and bacteria such as endophyte. Studies have shown that steer grazing on NWSG such as switchgrass had better growth rates and higher yields of beef overall.

Additionally, NWSG provides better habitat for wildlife, such as quail, pheasant, deer and more.

Converting Cool Season Fields to Warm Season CRP 

The Conservation Reserve Program offers practices for both introduced cool season and warm season grasses. Transitioning a cool-season field to a warm-season seed mix is a very specific process that involves proper land preparation, herbicide application, tree/stump removal, and preferably, burning of dead vegetation before no-till planting is performed.

Expert knowledge and experience are needed to ensure success. Timing of each step is critical.

That’s where FDCE can help.

In our 350,000+ acres of CRP establishment, we’ve helped many farmers and landowners transition from cool-season to NWSG. Our turn-key CRP solutions handle the process from start-to-finish. We can even help determine what conservation practice works best for your situation.

Contact us today!