Management Tips to Improve Fall Seeding Success

Preparing a good seedbed is the key for a good stand and a quick start.  Have your soil tested for both nutrient needs and for pH.  Do your best to keep your pH above 6.2.  If your soil is testing below 6.0 put down some lime ASAP.  Always, test the soil and apply the proper levels of plant nutrients designed for the crop you are planting.  For fastest soil analysis turn around use our lab right here at the co-op.

The five biggest problems with planting small seeds such as ryegrass and clovers are: 1) the seed is planted too deep, 2) there is poor contact with the soil this is caused by to thick of a thatch above the soil, 3) the thatch is too thick for the small seed to ever reach day light so it will germinate and die, 4) the pH is too low, and 5) the last problem is other plants growing which are competing for sun light and moisture.  If over seeding, be sure the old forage is either cut short or grazed off.  New seedlings will not do well in the shade of other plants or in a deep thatch.

For early fall pasture and to increase forage production early, get your soil analyze so you can fertilize what the plant needs with out wasting money.  Two management practices that will improve early forage production about 3 times if used together are lightly disking the seedbed to set the warm season grasses back and then by planting 45 lbs of ryegrass/acre in place of 25 lb of seed.  The study also showed that doing both of these, that it did not matter if the seed was then drilled or broadcasted, the increased yields were about the same.  Since broadcasting was the same as drilling then it would be good to spread the seed with the fertilizer.  That way when we did get the moisture, the new seedling would have everything it needed to get started extra good.  The early planting can probably take place the first part of September.

If you are just wanting later spring grazing or planting for a hay crop next spring 25 pounds of seed per acre is recommended.

Broadcasting ryegrass with your fertilizer is a good method.  However, the ryegrass will not spread as far as the fertilizer.  Therefore, set the setting at half and drive ½ the distances of normal spreading.  This will insure a good even stand.  Also in place of going back and forward, it is better to go around and around.  The reason for this is if one side is throwing more than the other side of the spreader, by going around and around you will be spreading light to heavy in place of when one goes back and forth it would be heavy to heavy and light to light.  Some may want to crisscross but that is not as good as going around and around.  Crisscrossing will cause a checker effect. 

If you need to plant very few pounds of clover seed in a cone seeder mix something like cottonseed meal with the seed to bulk it up.  If you no-till be sure you do not plant the seed too deep.

After broadcasting ryegrass or clovers one should roll or dray something over the soil to insure good soil contact.  If in a pasture situation, leaving the cattle on for a week will do the same thing.  This will help insure that there is good seed to soil contact.  A pasture harrow is a good tool to use after broadcasting to insure good seed to soil contact.

White clovers such as Durana Clover are best planted after October 15th through January.  No other plants should be allowed to grow with white clovers the first 3 months after planting.  Also white clovers do not do well if the thatch is deeper than a half inch.  Many have found that if cattle are left on after seeding white clovers that the cattle will keep the competing grasses from shading out the clover stand.