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Successful Forage Establishment

Learn how to successfully establish forage stands.

Like most other high risk farming operations it is important to plan ahead.

Six months prior to establishment is the time to select varieties, adjust soil pH and fertility, and control weeds.

Following sound tillage and seeding practices.

Legumes have the ability to form a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship with certain soil bacteria of the type or genus Rhizobia. These bacteria can take nitrogen from the air and make it available to the plant.

Legumes have the ability to form a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship with certain soil bacteria of the type or "genus" Rhizobia.

Regardless of the seeding date or seeding method, there are a few key agronomic principles that should be kept in mind when attempting to establish forage crops.

A firm and fine seedbed helps regulate seeding depth and improves seed-to-soil contact.

From the time the seedlings emerge until they are established is frequently the period when lots of money and energy are expended attempting to correct problems that should have been corrected months before the forage crop was seeded. When it comes to successful forage establishment "an ounce of prevention is", truly, "worth a pound of cure".

Because of high costs, seeding forage crops is considered to be a "high stakes" farming operation. The days of spreading some seeds on the ground and hoping for nature to cooperate are past.

Forage producers have a second opportunity to plant alfalfa and other small seeded forages this summer. Typically referred to as a “fall seeding” the best time to plant alfalfa is actually early to mid August or “mid-summer”.

Winter is the time to prepare equipment planting season. One task that is critical for spring establishment of forage crops is getting drills and seeders in shape.