Economics of grazing weeping lovegrass with stockers in the Southern Great Plains
costs and returns
Conservation Reserve Program
Eragrostis curvula (Shrad.) Ness.
optimal stocking rates
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CitationTorell, L. A., Kirksey, R. E., Donart, G. B., & Libbin, J. D. (2000). Economics of grazing weeping lovegrass with stockers in the Southern Great Plains. Journal of Range Management, 53(3), 268-276.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractBecause of the relatively low cost of seed and ease of establishment, more than 0.4 million ha of weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula (Shrad.) Nees.) were planted on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in the Southern High Plains. Dryland cropping alternatives including wheat and grain sorghum, give relatively low and variable economic returns. The objective of this study was to evaluate the economics of the lovegrass grazing alternative. Using a tract of weeping lovegrass in Curry County, N.M., animal performance and the economics of 5 grazing management treatments were evaluated, including 12-month and 6-month continuous grazing, seasonal grazing during only the spring and fall, and a 6-pasture rotation system. Fertilization of the pastures was also evaluated for the spring/fall grazing treatment. Average daily gain (ADG) for yearlings grazing weeping lovegrass pastures was found to decline rapidly as the grazing season progressed. The ADG was over 1.36 kg day-1 in early May but gradually declined over the grazing season to less than 0.45kg day-1 by the end of August. To maximize profit, stocker cattl ewould be sold in early September. All of the grazing systems yielded similar net economic returns, but substantially high ereconomic returns could be made by adjusting stocking rates to market conditions. Returning CRP land to dryland cropping or grazing with stocker cattle was estimated to yield nearly identical economic returns. Neither growing traditional crops or grazing lovegrass pastures appear to be economically viable alternatives without government assistance programs in place.