Hundreds of species of grasses can be found on the Eastern Plains. Many provide excellent forage, and do so year-around, whether on the ground or as hay.
Double El Conservation District has the grass seed available that is good for this region. Contact Us to receive the custom grass mix that is right for your land and needs. Just provide the legal description of your land, what your goals are and we’ll get to work customizing your mix.
When to Plant:
Recommended seeding dates are Nov. 1- April 30 when soil is not frozen.
How to Plant:
Grasses must be planted in a firm, weed-free seedbed, primarily because success depends upon good soil-to seed contact. Loose soil dries out quickly at the surface compared to firm soil, and native grass seed is planted only 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.
All warm-season and most cool-season grasses should be planted with a designated grass drill to ensure proper placement of seed. Double-disk furrow openers, seed box agitator and depth bands are needed. Press wheels should be used to firm the soil around the seed and close small air pockets.
Broadcasting by hand may be necessary in certain small areas, such as areas too steep or too rocky to drill.
In most cases, a grass seedling needs little or no fertilizer during establishment. However, on disturbed sites, such as area around a new house, water lines, trenching, etc., soil amendments may be required to maintain the vigor of the grasses.
Cover Crop Seeding:
Seeding native grasses in a suitable cover crop is almost a must. A suitable cover crop will decrease evaporation to retain soil moisture, and keep soil temperatures lower because of shading. It protects young grass seedlings from strong winds, collects snow during the winter, and will minimize the weed problem.
The cover crop should be planted in the spring, allowing for a hay cutting in the fall, and leaving 6″-8″ of stubble. Grass will be seeded into this stubble in the fall. Recommended cover crops are forage sorghum, long-season milo, forage millet, etc.
What to expect the first year:
Most growers of native grasses are convinced they have a failure the first year. Most of the time they actually have a good stand. Native grasses grow down, not up, during the establishment year. The top growth normally amounts to a narrow, straight leaf until late summer. It is also necessary to defer any grazing for at least the first growing season.
Weeds are the greatest cause of poor grass stands because they challenge small seedlings in two ways: they take away necessary water and nutrients, and they shade and smother the young plants. Mowing at a six-inch height is important to prevent the seedlings from being choked or smothered.
Types of Grasses Available:
We provide both general seed mixes as well as custom mixes blended specifically for your soil and conservation needs. Contact Us for assistance and to order the custom mix just right for your land.
Featured image credit: Picture of Evaluation of Pasture use image courtesy of R.L. Hamblen, Bugwood.org.