Cool-Season Grasses: Seeding Year Management
In general, grasses have a wider soil adaptation to drainage, acidity, and fertility than do legumes. Determine lime and fertility needs by soil test. Maintain pH between 6.0 and 7.0 for best results. In the absence of a soil test, assuming a medium-fertility soil, for all perennial grasses seeded alone, plow down 0-45-135 per acre and apply 40-40-40 per acre (band place if possible) at seeding time.
All grasses described, except ryegrass, can be seeded alone on a well-prepared, firm seedbed in April and May or August. Best results have been obtained with late summer seedings.
Timothy may also be seeded in the fall with small grains.
Ryegrass should be seeded only in mixture with legumes.
When no companion crop is used, band seed ¼ to ½ inch deep. Press wheels, used in conjunction with band seeding, provide additional stand insurance. If the seedbed is dry and press wheels are not used, cultipack before and after seeding in the same direction as the band seeding.
Light, fluffy grass seeds, such as bromegrass and orchardgrass, present special seeding problems. If suitable equipment is available, seeds can be band placed, but they may “bridge over” in the conventional grain drill. Alternate methods include:
- Mixing seed with a small amount of superphosphate and sowing through the fertilizer attachment of your grain drill or fertilizer spreader.
- For spring seedings, mixing seed with a small amount of oats and sowing through the grain attachment of your grain drill. Caution: Be sure grass seed is placed no deeper than ¼ inch.
Seeding rates necessary for successful stands depend on the condition of the seedbed and method of seeding. When seeding a legume-grass mix, adjust the seeding rate according to such factors as the fertility status of the soil, the drainage characteristics of the soil, and the aggressiveness of the seeding species.
In an alfalfa-ryegrass mixture, reduce the seeding rate of the perennial ryegrass where the drainage is variable or where fertilizer or manure nitrogen has been applied before seeding. The ryegrass seeding rate can be higher when seeding is done in a deep, well-drained soil that has had no previous nitrogen application.
Recommended seeding rates are given in Table 1.8-5.
Seeding-year harvest management of perennial grasses depends on time and method of seeding, fertility, and other factors. However, under favorable growing conditions for a spring seeding made without a companion crop and fertilized with nitrogen, one harvest in the year of seeding is possible. Cut when grass is at least 10 to 12 inches high.