Ag Notes: Now is time for establishing late summer forages

August 11, 2004|JERRY LITTLE

The period from late summer into early fall in Kentucky is the best time to establish the major cool season grasses such as orchardgrass, tall fescue, timothy, and bluegrass for pasture or hay. These four grasses are our pasture mainstays, making up 95 percent of the acreage.

Many years of research results show this late summer through early fall time frame is the best opportunity for successful establishment. Mother Nature had a hand in this time frame because seed produced in late spring remain dormant until late-summer and early-fall rainfall provides the moisture necessary for the seed to germinate.

To increase your success rate, remember these four points:

First, address soil fertility needs. Take soil samples now to determine fertility needs and to give you enough time to supply the needed nutrients.

Inadequate levels of phosphorous, potassium, or limestone can limit the success of later summer seedings. For pure grass stands, apply nitrogen at the rate of 40 to 60 pounds per acre.


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

To maximize the success of seedings, use a burn-down herbicide to kill annual weeds. Translocated herbicides can be used where labeled to kill or suppress perennials such as johnsongrass.

Remember to wait two to three weeks after spraying translocated herbicides before you plant in no-till situations. This will allow time for killed weeds to dry out and/or residual effects of the herbicide to decay.

Third, select high quality seed of an adapted variety. Planting high quality seed is an essential step toward establishment and longevity of a pasture. These seed have high percentages of germination, low percentages of weed seed, and freedom from noxious weed seed.

Certified seed meets or exceeds minimum standards for purity, germination and quality. This seed has a blue tab attached to the bag.

The certified seed should be from an "improved" variety adapted to your farm. "Improved" means the variety has been selected to improved yield, quality, persistence, disease resistance, or other positive traits.

Varieties greatly differ in yield, persistence, disease resistance, and cost. Expensive varieties aren't necessarily good, and the cheaper ones aren't necessarily bad.

Fourth, seed at the proper time and depth.

Legumes and grasses should be seeded before mid-September. Grasses are less sensitive to later seeding

than onto existing over grazed or mowed pastures. Forages should be seeded no deeper than one-fourth to one-half inch.

Late summer alfalfa seedings are susceptible to sclerotinia stem and crown rot. If sclerotinia has been active in your area or farm, strongly consider waiting until next spring to seed.

For more information on establishing late summer forages you can contact the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service.

Fast backwards

Ray and Bobby were dragging the deer they had just shot back to their truck.

Another hunter approached, pulling his along too.

"Hey, I don't want to tell you how to do something," he said. "But I can tell you that it's much easier if you drag the deer in the other direction. Then the antlers won't dig into the ground."

After the third hunter left, they decided to try it. A little while later Ray said to Bobby, "You know, that guy was right. This is a lot easier!"

"Yeah," replies Bobby. "But we're getting farther from the truck."

Jerry Little is County Extension Agent for Agriculture/Natural Resources.

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