Time to Fill In Those Gaps

Aug 20, 2019


The recent dry weather in many areas has exposed gaps in our forage stands. It is time develop a plan for successful re-seeding.
Like many farming projects it is always wise to develop a plan. There are steps you should take to ensure you are on the right road, the road to success.
 
  1. Take a soil test of the field you wish to renovate.
This is absolutely a must. The soil is the “medium “in which that new seed will be planted. It must have the correct pH along with adequate nutrition to get those young seedlings started. Most cool season forages do well in the pH range of 6.3-6.7.
One other note about soil tests and fertility, DO NOT fertilize right before seeding. Wait until the forage has germinated. Then apply any nutrients called for in your soil sample. Why? If you fertilize before, you may be feeding the existing grass and weeds that are present and thereby creating competition for light, water and nutrients for the new seedlings
 
  1. Choose the right time to do the re-seeding.
Most cool season forages get a better start if planted in the fall in the August 15-October 15 time frame. The biggest reason being is that the weather is cooling off. Cool season forages grow and establish better going in to a cooler weather pattern. A couple exceptions are legumes like alfalfa and clover which most likely will do better in a spring planting.
 
  1. Are you adding to an existing stand or starting over?
A determination must be made of the percentage stand that exists. In other words how much open space do I really have versus grass?  Is it 50 percent open space or 70 percent open space?  These two scenarios should have different outcomes. If your stand is 50 percent or less, you should strongly consider killing it all and stating over. A stand of 70 percent or greater should be considered for interseeding. Be cautious in this situation and make sure the existing forage is cut or grazed to a height of no more than 2 inches to eliminate competition for light in the germination process.
 
  1. Plant the proper amount of seed.
All forages have a recommended planting rate per acre and are available at your local Co-op or from your local agronomist. Don’t try to cut corners with seeding rates. Use full rates because you don’t want to be doing the same thing next fall    
      
  1. Plant when there is moisture in the ground.
Never try to re-seed during an extended dry period. Always plan on doing it after a rain and during a period of anticipated rain. Young seedlings need adequate moisture to germ and continue to grow.
 
  1. Plant at the proper planting depth.
This is probably the most common reason for failure in re-seeding.  Most cool season forage should be planted no deeper than ¼ inch. When a seed germinates it must push through the soil to reach the sunlight. It has only so much energy in that small seed to accomplish this. If the seed runs out of energy before it reaches the surface it will die.  
 
For more information, contact your local Co-op or TFC agronomist. Happy planting!
 

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