Agriculture News: ‘Threat of Invasives’ next Winter School topic; now a good time to ‘frost seed’

By Keenan Bishop, Published:

Don’t forget that the second Winter School is 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Franklin County Extension Offices, sponsored by Farmers Bank and Trust as well as Farm Credit Service of Shelbyville.

“The Threat of Invasives” is one topic and will be covered by Dr. Lee Townsend, UK Entomologist and Joyce Bender, Nature Preserves and Natural Areas Branch Manager for the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. This session will be in room E/F (east end).

Townsend will discuss the new threats from insects attacking crops and invading your home and how to identify and deal with them. Bender will cover the ever-encroaching plants that displace native species and generally wreak havoc with an area and look at what options there are to try and keep them at bay.

“Beef Quality Assurance Certification Training” will begin in room A/B (west side) before moving down to the basement garage for “chute side” training. Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a requirement for CPH sales as well as some of the KADF CAIP cost share that deals with cattle handing.

BQA is a national program that provides guidelines for beef cattle production. The program raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality. There is a $5 fee for processing. Bring a check made to Beef IRM.

FRIST SEED TO RENOVATE PASTURES

A local cattleman regularly reads the Ohio State University Beef Newsletter and shares good articles with me from time to time. Here are some of the highlights on frost seeding by Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Wayne County. For the whole article or details on rates give us a call at 695-9035.

Frost seeding involves broadcasting seed over a pasture area and letting the natural freeze/thaw cycles of late winter and early spring help to move the seed into good contact with the soil.

A basic requirement for frost seeding success is to make sure that the sod cover has been opened up, that is, that there is not so much growth present that the broadcast seed will not be able to come into contact with bare soil. Generally, a pasture is prepared for frost seeding by grazing it down hard, although some light tillage or a close mowing could also be used.

Another twist to frost seeding that cattlemen can use to their advantage is to combine frost seeding with hoof action. Under this seeding scenario, let your cattle begin to graze the paddock that is to be frost seeded in early March. Let the cattle graze down the forage, scuff up the soil and open up bare areas in the sod. At this point, broadcast the forage seed across the paddock.

Keep the cattle in the paddock another couple of days and let them continue to graze and trample or hoof in the seed. As a precaution realize that in certain soil conditions this method may not work as well with cattle as it does with sheep because if allowed to graze too long cattle could trample the seed in too deep.

LEGUMES ARE BEST

In general, legumes work better for frost seeding as compared to grasses. This might be because legume seeds are typically heavier than grass seed and that may help them get down to the soil level better than grass seed. Red clover is probably the most widely used forage species when it comes to frost seeding. Red clover has high seedling vigor, is tolerant of a range of soil pH and fertility conditions, and tolerates drought better than white clover.

Red clover produces its heaviest growth during the summer months. Red clover is known as a short-lived perennial, typically persisting in a stand for only a couple of years. Thus, many producers find themselves frost-seeding red clover every couple of years back into the same pasture.

However, work is underway to improve red clover longevity and there are a couple of varieties on the market that in OSU trials have high yields and stand percentages of around 60 percent or greater after four years. This seed is higher in cost than some of the more common shorter-lived red clovers, but may be worth it to some producers in some pasture situations.

After red clover, the next most popular legume that I see being used for frost seeding is white clover. White clover is a perennial clover and begins its production in the cooler spring weather. The older varieties of white clover are known as low growing or prostrate type of growth. This means that in order for the white clover to thrive, grass must be grazed down shorter so that light can get down to the white clover. However many seed companies now have newer, improved varieties that are more upright growing and compete better with grasses.

A FINAL NOTE

As a final note, remember that when seeding a legume that has not been grown in the pasture for a number of years, it is a good idea to include the proper bacterial inoculum with the seed to ensure the bacteria responsible for fixing nitrogen becomes associated with the plant roots.

Grasses do not generally work as well as legumes to establish through frost seeding, although in some of those pasture fields that have been trampled and beat down, the possibility for success should be greater than in conditions of a thicker sod. Frost seeding trials have indicated that perennial and annual ryegrass is probably the best choice for frost seeding followed by orchardgrass.

My preference, given the increased seed prices we have seen in the past couple of years, would be to stay away from frost seeding grass seed and use a no-till drill as the preferred seeding method.

Once the decision has been made to frost seed and the forage species selected, the producer must think about timing and seeding rate. Generally, now through the end of March is a good time to frost seed. Of course, if there is a good snow cover on a hillside that you desire to frost seed, you may want to wait until the snow has melted or your seed may all end up being carried down the hill.

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