Strategies for Repairing Pugged Pastures

By: Chris Teutsch, UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence at Princeton

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Maximizing success with frost seedings of clover

Literally thousands of acres of Kentucky pasture and hay fields are overseeded with clover, much of it frost‐seeded in late winter. Yet this is one of the few times where crops are seeded where we halfway expect not to get a stand, or we are not sure if the clover that comes is really from the seed spread. You would not accept this for corn or soybeans. Here are a few tips to ensure you have the best chance of getting clover established from a frost‐seeding.

Forage Tip of the Month: Common vs. Certified Seed

Plowing fields pictureOnce you have selected a forage species and variety, it is recommended to buy a quality seed that is high in germination rate and free of weed seed. Buying certified seed guarantees that the requirements for both of these parameters has been met and should be the first purchasing option.

Overseeding Pastures in Kentucky

written by Ray Smith - Overseeding of pastures is an excellent management tool that improves pasture production, forage quality, and ensures a good ground cover the following year without major pasture renovations. Overseeding consists of planting seed in a field with existing grass cover in order to fill in bare patches and thicken the stand. It can be done over the entire pasture or limited to trouble areas. The best time for overseeding is the fall when weed competition is low and ideal growing conditions exist for cool-season grasses.

Renovating Pastures

Multiple reasons exist for the need to reseed pastures such as; old stands that are dying out causing bare spots, to reduce number of undesirable weeds and forages, introduce a new forage species, control forage-related disorders, among many other causes. When deciding what forage species to seed, pasture conditions need to be assessed, such as current plant species, amount of bare ground, soil type, location, and season. The livestock species and their nutrient needs should also be taken into consideration.

Inoculating Legume Seed

Although there are many benefits of using legumes in pastures, one of the most desirable is the ability of these plants to fix atmospheric nitrogen.  This can increase yields and quality while significantly reducing fertilizer costs.  Nitrogen fixation is the result of the symbiotic relationship between the plant and rhizobium bacteria.  Rhizobia form nodules on the roots of the plant and allow the plant to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form of nitrogen that can be utilized by plants.

Purchasing Quality Seed

Nitrogen applications may allow for earlier grazingIt’s time for those planning on seeding pastures or hayfields this spring to begin preparing.  Whether renovating pastures, converting cropland into pasture, establishing a new species into an existing stand, or reestablishing winter feeding areas and other high traffic areas, it is important to purch

Successful Seeding

Successful seedingSeed is the basic building block to a forage or crop stand. Whether establishing a new stand or improving an old stand, actions can be taken to ensure that newly planted seed produces a healthy stand. Seed is one of the cheaper inputs into a grazing system, and this cost should be offset by pasture production.

When to Reseed Pastures

Multiple reasons exists for needing to reseed pasture, such as old stands that are dying out or stands that need to be improved due to poor management, disease, to fill in bare spots, or to reduce weed problems. When deciding what forage species to seed, determine future goals and plans for the pasture in question. Common goals may be grazing, harvesting for hay or silage, supply quick ground cover, or to fill in bare areas. The current conditions need to be assessed, such as current species, amount of bare ground, soil type, location, and season.

Frost Seeding

The frost seeding method allows seeds to be inter-seeded into undisturbed soils by scattering seed on top of the ground. The freezing and thawing action of the soil works the seeds into the soil where they can germinate. In Kentucky, the ideal time to frost seed is between February 10 and March 1, with mid-February preferred. It is important to consider what forage species can be successfully frost seeded. Seeding red and white clover is recommended using this method. While it is possible to frost seed some grass species, it is typically less successful and generally not recommended.