Nebraska is nationally known as the Beef State. Our team provides research-based information and resources to beef producers to help them provide an economical, safe, quality product to consumers while protecting and preserving Nebraska's vast natural resources.

Active in all 93 counties and at

Livestock Systems

Click to view Archived News Articles by Ben Beckman
Ben Beckman is a beef systems Extension Educator serving the counties of Antelope, Cedar, Knox, Madison and Pierce.  He is based out of the Cedar County Extension office in Hartington.  You can reach him by phone: (402) 254-6821 or email:

While the first frost of the year isn’t here yet, how we manage pastures in the fall can impact plant health through the winter and ultimately production next spring. Are you giving your pastures proper care this fall?
Allowing for alfalfa to winterize before dormancy is a key factor preventing winter kill across a stand. Traditional practice is to time the last cutting for roughly 6 weeks before the first frost. This gives plants time to fill up root reserves and gives a bit of wiggle room in the case of an early cold snap. While this general guideline has proven its worth over the years, many producers would love to have a bit more accurate method to time last cuttings.
Late summer always seems like a time when weeds can become quite noticeable in pastures, but control methods now are limited. Improved grazing management and timed herbicides during the best window of control are essential to reduce weed populations economically over time.
Besides limiting forage production, dry weather can create another problem for producers to deal with, that of nitrate toxicity. While all plants use nitrogen, some tend to have higher nitrate levels than others. Nitrate concerns are nothing to sneeze at, but with the right tools, can be managed safely.
Ongoing dry and drought conditions in many parts of the state are supporting hay and forage prices as we look towards this fall. Because of harvested forage supplies being tight, harvesting corn for silage may be a good option this year as corn prices are somewhat depressed by expectations of an adequate crop.