Table 2. Seeding rates for timothy and a single legume in mixture.
Orchardgrass is often simple to plant in either early spring or late summer. Pennsylvania has, however, had the highest success with late-summer sowings. After mid-August, there is an increased danger of winter damage to summer seedings. Plant between 8 and 12 pounds of seed per acre.
|with any one of these legume
Plant seeds 14 to 12 inch deep into a well-prepared, limed, and fertilized seedbed, as determined by a soil test. Band seeders, cultipack seeders, grain drills, and broadcast seeding may all be utilized to sow crops successfully. Cultipack after sowing using grain drills without press wheels or broadcast seeding to ensure strong seed-soil contact and accelerate germination and emergence.
Which grass blends best with alfalfa?
Growing Alfalfa/Grass Mixtures – Dairy farmers have always believed that grasses provide too much fiber for high-producing dairy cows. However, understanding of digestible fiber has taught us that grass fiber is more digestible than alfalfa fiber. This has created new options for dairy farmers, several of whom have begun to include grass in their diets.
- The agronomic reasons for combining alfalfa with grass are: Increased seeding year yields – Certain grasses, such as Italian ryegrass, will establish more quickly than alfalfa and generate a greater overall forage yield in the seeding year than alfalfa alone.
- Wider harvest window on second and subsequent cuts — many cool-season grasses head little or not at all after the initial cutting, thus regrowth consists largely of leaves that alter little in terms of feed quality over the 7 to 10 days before to harvest.30% to 40% of grass containing alfalfa dries faster than pure alfalfa or pure grass.
Certain less winter death or damage to the alfalfa stand, losses from flooding — some grasses will endure standing water and/or ice in low places of the field better than alfalfa. Some orchardgrass and tall fescue cultivars are not as winterhardy as others and will perish before alfalfa.
Possibility to apply manure to stands with less traffic damage and stand loss – grasses are less susceptible to traffic damage than alfalfa. Dairy nutritionists are increasingly considering the use of grass because: Grass/alfalfa mixes have more total fiber than alfalfa alone, which may be required in corn silage-heavy feeds.
Grass fiber is more digestible than alfalfa fiber. Possibility of reducing non-fibrous carbohydrates (NFC) in dairy feeds – An excess of quickly fermentable carbohydrates can lower milk output via acute or subacute rumen acidosis. Formulation of high-starch, low-fiber diets has been a significant factor in the growth of lameness in dairy cattle (which has risen to 20 to 25 percent of all dairy cattle in the Midwest in recent years) (Cook, 2003). Initial feeding trials indicated that we could maintain high levels of milk production by substituting a portion of corn silage and alfalfa with grass silage, despite a slight increase in dietary NDF. The key to effectively managing alfalfa-grass mixtures for high-quality dairy forage is to maintain forage stands containing between 30 and 40 percent grass.
When the composition of the stand falls within this range, nitrogen fixation from legumes can satisfy the needs of grass species, and fiber content is still acceptable. In experiments conducted at the University of Wisconsin, three grass species (orchardgrass, tall fescue, and meadow fescue) were seeded at three with alfalfa.
Alfalfa was planted at a rate of 645 seeds per square meter, with grass seeding rates ranging from 15% to 75%. All seed lots exhibited greater than 90% germination. The emergence of seedlings was determined by plant counts taken 30 to 40 days after sowing.
- As depicted in the graph to the right, the average grass emergence varied widely between sites and years.
- Grass plant counts taken 30 to 40 days after seeding were unaffected by grass seeding rate, ranging from 23% emergence at 15:85 grass:alfalfa to 19% emergence at 50:50 grass:alfalfa to 16% emergence at 75:25 grass:alfalfa.
In all seeding mixtures, tall fescue and meadow fescue had similar emergence rates (26 and 24%, respectively), whereas orchardgrass had a lower emergence rate (9%). At Lancaster, grass establishment was significantly higher than at the other two sites, indicating a significant environmental effect on grass establishment.
This is because the studied grasses germinate at temperatures between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius, while alfalfa requires slightly warmer conditions (5 to 7 degrees Celsius). The optimal temperature for germination of these grasses is approximately 15°C, while that of alfalfa is approximately 25°C. Alfalfa is much more susceptible to seedling diseases if the early establishment temperatures are below optimal, but it will grow rapidly if the temperatures are higher.
During the early stages of development, grasses also prefer cooler temperatures, whereas alfalfa predominates when temperatures are higher (above 25°C). Thus, the environment in which germination occurred had a significantly greater impact on the ultimate stand than the ratio of alfalfa to grass seeding rate.
Except for the highest quantities of grass seed, the grass seeding rate did not effect the emergence of alfalfa. Therefore, larger grass seeding rates led to a greater proportion of grass in the final combination. In general, when the grass planting rate rose, the alfalfa percentage of the entire stand decreased.
Orchardgrass had a lesser impact on alfalfa stand decrease than the other two species. It is essential to note that more plants develop than ultimately contribute to the stand. In reality, the biology dictates that numerous plants germinate and begin to develop, after which the population is reduced to what can be supported by the soil and surroundings.
No matter how many pounds of seed are used per acre with pure alfalfa, the stand will shrink to 30 to 35 plants per square foot by the end of summer. This study demonstrates that the same concept applies to grasses: with higher seeding rates, more plants sprout, but as the season advances, more thinning occurs.
However, fescues did not thin as quickly as alfalfa, and as the season proceeds, the proportion of grass plants tends to grow. Orchardgrass has a lower germination rate and decreased at around the same pace as alfalfa, thus the proportion of alfalfa to grass stayed roughly the same as the season continued.
Thus, our proposal is to sow grass and alfalfa at the rates stated in the table. We would also propose sowing around 2 lb/acre of Italian ryegrass (but no more!) to obtain a ryegrass harvest before the alfalfa/grass combinations are ready for harvest in areas with adequate early-season rainfall. Note that the recommended seeding rate is from sixty to seventy-five seeds per square foot, with thirty to thirty-five plants per square foot expected by the end of the seeding year.
Maintaining desired alfalfa/grass mixtures is possible by selecting suitable grass species and types. Timothy and smooth bromegrass tend to provide too much fodder in the spring but too little the rest of the year; thus, we suggest combining alfalfa with orchardgrass, tall fescue, or meadow fescue.
These plants will generate more grass with subsequent mowings. The selection of grass species has minimal impact on the overall season production of a mixed stand. If the alfalfa is growing properly, we have discovered that alfalfa/grass mixtures yield the same as pure alfalfa stands. Thus, whereas meadow fescue in pure stands tends to produce slightly less than tall fescue in pure stands, when combined with alfalfa, the yield of the mixed plot is roughly equivalent for the two grasses.
Meadow fescue often has a greater fodder quality than other types of cool-season grass. In order to achieve success with alfalfa/grass mixes, it is necessary to choose the correct grass kinds. Selecting a quality grass variety is more essential than selecting a particular grass species! Grass varieties should be selected based on yield, maturity (want late maturing grasses to have grass head close to when alfalfa is ready for harvest), adequate winterhardiness, rust resistance, and good seasonal distribution of yield (some varieties of some species have a higher percentage of total yield in the first cutting, while others grow more uniformly throughout the season).
Adaptability – Persist orchardgrass has a very broad adaptation and has been cultivated successfully as far north as Canada and as far south as northern Georgia, Memphis, TN, and Oklahoma City, OK, in addition to the Western and Eastern United States.
How quickly does orchard grass establish itself?
Medium Red Clover Step-By-Step Planting Instructions adds nutrients to the soil.
- After preparing the soil, sow the seed at the specified rate. Refer to the back of this manual for seeding rates. To ensure that the seed is distributed uniformly, disperse half of the seed while traveling north to south and the other half while walking east to west.
- If you have poor soil, you might use a little amount of organic fertilizer after sowing, although this is not required for robust development.
- Many elect to cover their grass seed after planting, despite the fact that this is not required. If you wish to cover your seed to assist maintain moisture and keep it in place, we recommend covering it to a maximum depth of 14 inch “. You may use topsoil, sterilized straw, or peat moss to cover the seed. Coated seeds such as Bermuda and Clover seeds must not be more than 1/8 inch thick “deep.
- Maintain the seeds’ moisture with gentle and consistent watering until they begin to sprout. This may necessitate watering more than once every day during a dry spell. Once the seeds have germinated, water deeply and less often. This helps to promote a healthy grass or meadow with strong roots.
- Do not mow your grass until it has reached the proper height. This information is available on our website on the product-specific page. This is around 3 to 6 weeks following planting for the majority of grasses, but might be longer depending on the growth circumstances. Remember to be cautious while mowing the seedlings the first few times, as they will be rather fragile.
- After many mowings, you may, but are not required to, apply an organic fertilizer to stimulate robust growth.
The seeds may need weeks or even a month to germinate. Be patient. Please do not hesitate to call us at (877) 309-7333 if you have any queries concerning germination time or planting.