Selection, Strips, Help Meet Ranch Goals

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Two ranchers walking pasture with dead mesquite

Juan Suarez can’t control the biggest factor in productivity: the weather. But he does have a strategy for good weather or drought.

Historic Callaghan Ranch, headquartered near Encinal, Texas, north of Laredo, is known for its commercial cattle, seedstock and wildlife. Annual rainfall here averages 22 inches but can be wildly variable. Early settlers called this region the Wild Horse Desert.

“I always get asked, ‘Why do you run cattle in the desert? Well, when it does rain, this country’s very fertile. And when you have the right tools, you can make it very productive,” says Juan Suarez, ranch manager, Callaghan Ranch.

Info, Decisions Benefit ROI

Corteva Agriscience Range & Pasture Market Development Specialist Benny Martinez piqued Suarez’s interest when he shared information about LandVisor.

In 2020 and again in 2021, he worked with Martinez and the technology to manage his aerial applications on brush. The technology in LandVisor identifies soil types, key plant species, mesquite density and other factors. It estimates current and potential grass production to determine where spraying will offer the greatest return.

“It helps us make better decisions on where we want to spray, when we want to spray and what part of a pasture is most productive,” Suarez says.

With the plan set, the technology monitors the target brush to determine when it’s most susceptible to spraying. The tool can see things the human eye cannot.

And LandVisor sees all the brush, not just what’s easily viewed from a road. That’s important, considering pastures on Callaghan Ranch average about 5,500 acres in size but vary from 3,000 to 11,000 acres.

Pinpointing brush susceptibility can improve application timing. Better timing tends to improve control. Mesquite control with LandVisor on Callaghan Ranch has exceeded 70% mortality, Suarez says.

More Than Cattle Feed

Mesquite control benefits cattle, but cattle aren’t the only Callaghan Ranch enterprise.

“We lease out 85% of our land to hunters,” Suarez says. “It’s some of the greatest whitetail (deer) hunting in the nation. “We’re trying to create more grazing for cattle, but at the same time, it’s creating edge and creates forage for whitetail deer.”

To create more edge — habitat with both open and brushy areas — Suarez sprays some pastures in strips. He sprays a strip 350 feet wide, leaves an adjacent brush strip 700 feet wide and sprays another strip 350 feet wide.

“You still leave some of your habitat for deer, some grazing for cattle and create that edge in between,” he says.

The operation’s multiple land-use objectives and flexibility help make Sendero® herbicide the ideal foundation for those applications. Sendero is more selective than other options. So it’s great on mesquite but gentle on several species important to wildlife. Plus, the ability to treat individual mesquite trees via the leafspray method makes Sendero an excellent choice for catching new infestations early or for maintaining treated areas.

With the tools he has, Suarez makes the most of resources on the ranch. He just can’t control the biggest factor in productivity: the weather. But he does have a strategy for good weather or drought.

The ranch typically stocks 700 to 900 mama cows. But with more moisture and grass production, Suarez will retain calves at weaning to graze as stockers. “We run stockers when we do have rain, and when we don’t have rain, we just concentrate on our cow-calf operation.”

Sendero® is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.

 

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