What is the best time of year to plant pasture grass?
September 04, 2022

What is the best time of year to plant pasture grass?

By Jordana Bruccoleri

The procedure of sowing pasture seed can take a long time. When it comes to growing healthy pasture grass, a variety of elements come into play, including soil health and nutrient content, as well as water-holding ability. However, planting in the fall might be a bit of a challenge at times. An early frost is always possible, as is the amount of rain that may fall. As a result, it's imperative that you not only plant at the right time of year but also perform a soil test, measure the soil moisture, use the correct seed variety, and then wait for seed establishment.

Also, planting grass seeds is an essential part of your plan to improve your pastures. For pasture seed to grow, the dry summer mustn't damage or burn the seed. Your pasture seed will be able to grow if you plant your grass seed in the early fall or spring and by keeping it wet. A Chain Harrow can make a rough surface and cover the seed, which is essential for germination. If you want to overseed pastures, harrows with teeth or tines that can be moved to tear up the surface more aggressively are helpful.

When is the best time to sow pasture?

A lot of attention should be paid while sowing the plant seeds. It's one of the most overlooked aspects of lawn care, and we hope you don't make the same mistakes that others have made. You have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes! So, the best thing to do is plant your seeds wisely. The right time is when the seeds have time to grow into young plants before their preferred growing season begins. If it is done right, most seeds will sprout and grow into healthy new grasses within their growing season.

Now, you may wonder, when is the best time to plant pasture grass seed? Well, you might already know that there are two kinds of seeds: ones for warm places and ones for cold places. Both are planted at different times of the year, so we might want to break up our discussion into two parts.

What is the ideal time of year to seed pasture grass in warm weather?

Warm-season grass seeds should be planted in early spring for the greatest results. It's best to start to seed while the weather is still mild because there is a lot of trouble with grass seedlings growing in the scorching heat of summer.

However, experts also say that you should plant them between mid-March and early May(spring seeding) to get the best results since they grow when it's warm. You might have noticed that grass grows a little faster in the late summer, so you might as well take advantage of this.

What is the ideal time of year for pasture seeding in cold weather?

Grass that thrives in colder temperatures should be planted later in the year to benefit from the proper conditions. You may want to sow tall fescue between mid-August and early September so that they can grow adequately during the balance of the cool season. It's essential to keep in mind that this is only a smart option if your area isn't severely damaged by snow.

Is a specific amount of grass seed required for each acre of pasture?

Using a seed drill, the seeding rate is 20 pounds per acre. Using a broadcast spreader, you'll need 2 to 2.5 times as much seed as you would if you were using a drill, requiring 50 to 62.5 pounds of seed per acre. Soil temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees F are ideal for planting.

Things to be considered while planting pasture grass seed:

Choosing a location:

Equipment access and the application of supplements can be severely limited by the land's topography, such as terraces or sloped and shallow sections and soil water holding capacity. The differences primarily influence the growth patterns of the various plant species in the pasture in soil properties that occur as the land contours.

Soil fertility:

Your newly seeded lawn will flourish only if placed in the best pasture growth soil type. A soil test can inform you if you need to add lime and fertilizer to your soil depth. It is possible that even if you apply fertilizer to the soil with a high acidity level, the plants will not benefit. The neutralization of acidity in the soil might take months or even years if lime is put to the soil surface without being tilled in. Before it can help your plants, it must go through the soil to the root zone.

Finely ground limestone will react more quickly than coarsely ground limestone. If the soil pH is extremely low and you require a significant amount of lime, you should apply it at least a year before seeding.

Choosing the best Mixture:

Grassy pastures with a few legumes yield the best yields and quality for livestock. Grass and legume growth tendencies must be considered, as well as the soil type and climate, while selecting plants for grazing. Because different fields have different soil types, it's not a good idea to plant the same combination everywhere.

Choosing a forages species depends on the following considerations:

  • The kind and age of livestock that will be grazed.
  • The period of the year when pastures are most likely to be available.
  • The way pasture growth is distributed throughout the year.
  • Type of soil, drainage, capacity to hold water, fertility, and pH.

Protein-rich legumes enhance the pasture's nutritional value by enhancing the grass's quality. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil are also enriched by legumes, making them available to grasses indirectly. Seeds of legumes must be either infected with the correct bacteria or planted in an area where the germs are already present. Due to the potential for animal illness caused by legumes, ruminant grazing should not include legumes alone.

Grasses - increase the fiber intake of animals by providing roughage. A certain amount of fiber is required by grazing animals, yet grasses' long-term development, especially in early spring, can cause grasses to become fibrous, reducing animal intake and growth. There are two types of grasses: those that create sods or those that form bunches. It's easier for sod-forming plants and those with a lot of tillers to compete with weeds.

When sowing grass seeds, keep an eye on the weather:

Using the usual temperature trends in your area, you may anticipate the optimum time to plant pasture grass seed. However, checking the climate helps determine the best time to sow pasture grass seed. Take precautions against an unexpected cold or hot spell.

In the same way, be on the lookout for rain. Some seeds may germinate better when well watered, yet downpours might cause seeds to erode or migrate and cluster at the bottom of hillsides, for example.

Continuous rain, rather than heavy rain, is preferable to planting pasture grass seed. A fungal disease that kills seedlings might occur if the soil is overly wet, making it difficult to cultivate. You should avoid seeding the grass on windy days since the spread of seeds or the movement of newly-planted seeds can be hampered if they aren't tamped down.

Prepare the pasture for grass seeding:

If overseeding:

Before sowing, keep the pasture overgrazed or mowed to a fine blade. For the best likelihood of success, reducing competition from the existing vegetation is vital.

If re-establishing:

There are two ways to get rid of unwanted plants. Use a non-selective herbicide or tamp down the dirt, burying the plants to remove all the weeds. You can protect the soil and keep it moist while your seed germinates by using a herbicide that leaves behind a layer of plant litter. A fine, hard seedbed can be achieved by tilling the soil before planting. To do this, you may need to disc and roll the soil after tilling.

Planting Methods:

Every field has the potential for erosion. Depending on the field characteristics, there may be a better way than another.

Till: Some farmers use conventional seeding because of the specific tillage procedures, such as plowing and disking; when soil is tilled, it can be aerated, reduced in density, cleared of vegetation and residues, lime and fertilizer added, and a flat surface created for seeding and harvesting. Overworking the seedbed might damage the soil structure, so be extra cautious.

No-till drill: Useful for reducing soil erosion, conserving water, and reducing fuel and labor requirements. There must be a particular planter to provide a suitable seed-to-soil ratio. Sand or silt loam soils are ideal for no-till farming because of their benefits. The density of a stand can be increased by planting in both directions on a grid.

"Frost Seeding" can be used from February to the end of March or mid-April. Incorporate the seed into the soil by alternating between thawing and freezing the soil with rain. Frost seedlings do not do well on grasses, but red clover does work correctly.

Restarting from scratch:

If you have thought of pasture renovation and want to start from scratch, you should keep in mind that you should only renovate roughly 25% of your fields in one year. This is because cattle may still need to graze, or you may be planning to create hay in the future.

In addition, new sowing may not always germinate as expected. It can take up to a year for newly seeded pastures to withstand grazing. A new seeding can be damaged or killed before it has a chance to take root if it is exposed to winter flooding or dry conditions.

If your newly planted pastures are growing well and it looks like it's time to let your animals out, you can use the "Pull-Test" to see if the plants are ready. It's done by taking a single forage plant and squeezing it. Your livestock will be able to remove the plant if you can do so. Your grass must pass the pull test before you can let your livestock out. Once your pastures have developed, you can allow modest grazing.

Weed Control:

It is possible that you noted that weed control was not included in the timeframe, although it is a vital aspect of your pasture improvement. Weed control cannot be done at a set time of day. Maintaining a healthy forage stand and routine mowing are effective ways to keep weeds under control. Weeds that take over may need to be killed with chemicals. First, find the weed and its life cycle with the help of your local Extension office. Then, choose an effective product and the right time to apply it.

Conclusion

We hope this post has answered your questions about when to plant pasture grass. However, enhancing a pasture is a time-consuming and challenging endeavor. It necessitates preparation, monetary resources, and persistence. With the proper knowledge and techniques, You may have a productive, healthy pasture full of nutrients that offers plenty of food for your animals if you do things correctly. Throughout the year, it is essential to keep up with fundamental pasture management procedures.