Four points for seeding forages in late summer

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By David Harrison

The period from late summer to early fall is generally the best time to seed cool season grasses such as orchardgrass, tall fescue, and timothy (alfalfa and clover typically do better in the spring). Consider these four points to increase your success.

First, address the soil’s fertility needs. Inadequate levels of phosphorous, potassium or limestone can limit productive yields and decrease stand life.

Take soil samples now and submit them for nutrient analysis to determine fertility needs. Soil sampling probes, soil sample bags, and sampling instructions are available at the Extension office. There is no charge for soil testing fees to LaRue County residents.

Second, control competition. Late summer seedings most often fail from competition and lack of water. When you control competition from existing vegetation with herbicides or tillage, the emerging seedlings will have access to whatever water and nutrients are present without having to compete with weeds.

Third, to increase forage establishment and production, plant a good variety. Varieties differ greatly in yield potential, persistence or stand life, disease resistance and cost of seed.

For information on the leading performing varieties, you can consult the UK forage variety tests test publications available at the office and online. Local dealers can share with you their best varieties.

Fourth, seed at the proper time and depth. Legumes and grasses should be seeded before mid-September. Grasses are more likely to be successful to later seeding than legumes. However, grasses need good soil contact; they will not do well if you simply broadcast them onto existing overgrazed or mowed pastures.

Forages should be seeded no deeper than one-fourth to one-half inch. Be sure the drill, whether owned or rented, plants the seed at the correct depth because incorrect seeding depth has resulted in many seeding failures.

Unfortunately, we can’t control the rainfall, but it is good to seed just before an inch of rainfall, if possible.