A primary goal in pastures is to maintain a consistent plant growth pattern throughout the growing season. Unlike hay production where we add nitrogen at green-up for high hay yields, Mother Nature usually provides enough spring growth of pastures without added nitrogen. While we emphasize N in August for stockpiling, fall is also a good time to add small amounts of N to cool season grass pastures (remember no need to add N if you have more than 30% clover). It’s also a good time to soil test and lime and fertilize (P and K) based on recommendations.
Applying 30-50 lbs/acre of actual N in October to early November promotes tillering and root growth without excessive top growth as grasses prepare for dormancy. Growth of summer annual grasses is waning and a fall N application gives desirable cool season grasses an opportunity to compete for sunlight and nutrients.
Stands will “thicken up” and become healthier going into the winter, and they will stay green longer and green up earlier in the spring. A healthy and strong plant has a much better opportunity to compete next year with summer annual weeds such as ragweed, yellow foxtail, etc.