Pasture-based livestock production is impacted by management and weather. In pastures, there is conflict between leaf retention for plant growth and leaf harvest for animal nutrition. Defoliated pastures with low light interception (LI) may have a low forage growth rate (FGR), while excessive growth shades leaves, reducing FGR and resulting in an S-shaped regrowth curve. To optimize production, it is best to keep FGR linear. Three studies were conducted to evaluate the impact of management and weather on FGR. Replicated pastures were used to measure FGR when grazed from 25 to 10 cm and allowed to regrow. The impact of alternative defoliation timings and intensities on FGR were studied using clipped treatments at three recovery intervals and two stubble heights. Variability in FGR was studied using a field validated plant growth model. Of the 24 growth periods studied, two displayed exponential, 12 linear and 10 linear-plateau growth. There was no effect of FM on growth curve form. In May and June, LI increased with canopy height, up to 0.93. Stubble height and days of growth impacted FGR with an interaction. There was no treatment impact on root density. Weather caused variation in FGR. A low FGR risk occurs at high elevations; greater risk occurs east of the plateau.
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