Planting Guide for Forage Crops in North Carolina | NC State Extension Publications (2023)

There is a PDF version of this document for downloading and printing.

This planting guide provides the best available information about planting dates, rates, and depths for forage crops commonly grown in North Carolina. The process of establishing a forage crop is very important because:

  • It is expensive — $100 to $250 per acre
  • Perennial crops can remain productive for several years without replanting, and thus poor stand establishment can result in long-term low forage productivity
  • Soil and water conservation and animal feeding depend upon rapid establishment of persistently good forage stands

In addition to this publication, use this online tool to quickly access information about establishing forages, to use a pure live seed calculator, and to find estimates of frost dates in North Carolina.

Variety Selection

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Most of the information provided here applies to all varieties of the same plant species; however, variety selection can influence the productivity and persistence of a crop. Information on variety performance can be obtained from North Carolina’s Official Variety Testing Program and also from Forage Variety Trial Programs conducted in neighboring states of the transition region (e.g., Tennessee, Kentucky). Remember, however, that poor establishment can nullify the influence of even the best varieties.

Planting Region

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The climate and soils of North Carolina vary considerably across the state. These variations necessitate planting at different times in each area. The state can be divided into three major regions: mountains, piedmont, and coastal plain. The planting dates in this guide are listed for these major regions and are based on normal growing conditions.

A review of the average freezing dates in the spring and fall indicates significant differences in weather within and between the three major regions. Therefore, the suggested planting dates may be adjusted by a few days on the basis of local experience and weather records. For example, the optimum planting dates for the mountains are 15 to 30 days earlier in the fall than those for the piedmont, but a review of temperature records indicates that the best planting dates in the southern mountains may be similar to those in the piedmont.

(Video) Forage Crops for Maximum Livestock Nutrition with Paige Smart

Planting Time

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Establishing a successful forage crop depends partly on weather conditions shortly before and after planting. Years of field research and experience under North Carolina’s varied growing conditions have made it possible for researchers to recommend planting dates that will most likely lead to success or minimize risk (“best dates”). Delaying planting until the last possible dates indicated may reduce the chance of a good stand by 30 to 50% (“possible dates”) (Table 1). We have also included general recommendations in Table 2 for planting some cool-season grass-legume mixtures. Nevertheless, cool-season grass-legume mixtures can also be achieved by frost-seeding clover seed by early-to-mid-February in cool-season grasses that are already established.

The timing of planting is important because the survival rate of developing seedlings is related to the period during which stress occurs from drought, freezing, or competition for light and nutrients. If no such stress occurs, or if it occurs after seedlings are well established, survival and production losses can be minimized. It is worth noting that date ranges may vary each year, especially in light of erratic and extreme weather patterns. This guide is designed to provide generalized best management practices.

Fall Plantings. In general, cool-season forages, and especially perennial forages, can be best established by planting in the fall. Seedbeds should be prepared during favorable autumn weather when weeds are not as competitive. Furthermore, seedling root systems can become well established before the arrival of hot, dry weather the following season. However, late fall plantings can result in winter injury from freezing and heaving.

Here are some points to remember about fall planting:

  • Cool-season grass seedlings are more tolerant of freezing temperatures and heaving than legumes.
  • In prepared seedbeds, alfalfa and ladino clover should have five to seven true leaves present before frequent freezing weather occurs.
  • In prepared seedbeds, grasses should have three to four leaves before freezing weather occurs.

Spring Plantings. Spring plantings carry additional risks (i.e., drought, heat, and weed encroachment) beyond fall plantings. Spring plantings in the piedmont and mountains may be justified (1) if land or sod is prepared in the fall or winter, and plantings can be made early enough (between mid-February and late-March) for the crop to become established before summer stress; and (2) if summer weeds can be controlled while the seedlings develop.

Table 1. Planting guidelines for several forage crops in North Carolina.

Crop

Type

A: annual
P: perennial
CS: cool-season
WS: warm-season

Seeding Rate

(lb./acre; PLS: pure live seed basis)

B: broadcast
D: drill (4–9” row)
R: row (30+ inches)

Planting Depth (inches)

Mountains
(above 2,500 ft. elevation)1
See footnote for below 2,500 ft.

Piedmont and Tidewater2

Coastal Plain2

Best Dates

Possible Dates

Best Dates

Possible Dates

Best Dates

Possible Dates

Alfalfa
(Medicago sativa)

P, CS

B:20–25; D:15–20

¼

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 15–Oct 31

Sep 1–30

Sep 1–Oct 31

Mar 1–Apr 7

Mar 1–Apr 15

Mar 1–31

Bahiagrass
(Paspalum notatum)

P, WS

B:15–25; D:10–20

¼–½

Not adapted

May 1–15

Apr 20–Jun 30

Feb 15–Mar 15

Mar 15–Jun 30

Barley
(Hordeum vulgare)

A, CS

B:140; D:100

1–2

Aug 1–20

Aug 1–Oct 10

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Feb 20–Mar 20

Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon)

P, WS

Sprigged types:
30–40 bushels per acre
(1 bushel = 1.25 cu ft)

1–3

Not well adapted

Mar 1–31

Feb 15–Apr 15 or through July if irrigated

Mar 1–31

Feb 15–Apr 15 or through July if irrigated

Seeded types:
Common: B:6–8; D:5–7
Improved: D:10–15

¼–½

Not well adapted

Apr 15–May 15

Apr 1–Jun 15

Common: Apr 1–May 15
Improved: Apr 15–June 1

Mar 15–Jun 7

Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)

P, WS

B:10–12; D:8–10

½–¾

May 25–Jun 15

May 1–Jun 30

May 10–Jun 1

May 1–Jun 30

Apr 20–May 15

Apr 10–Jun 30

Bluegrass, Kentucky (Poa pratensis)

P, CS

B:10–15; D:8–12

¼

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 25

Not well adapted

Not well adapted

Caucasian Bluestem (Bothriochloa caucasica)

P, WS

B:4 PLS; D:2

¼–½

May 25–Jun 15

May 7–Jun 30

May 7–20

May 1–Jun 30

May 1–15

Apr 15–Jun 30

Crabgrass
(Digitaria ciliaris)

A, WS

B:8–10; D: 5–7

¼–½

May 15–31

May 1–Jun 30

May 1–31

Apr 25–Jun 30

May 1–15

Apr 20–Jun 30

Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

A, CS

B:20–25; D:15–20

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Aug 25–Sep 15

Aug 25–Oct 25

Sep 1–30

Sep 1–Oct 30

Dallisgrass
(Paspallum dilatatum)

P, WS

B:20–30; D:15–20

¼–½

Not well adapted

Mar 1–31

Mar 1–Apr 15

Mar 1–30

Feb 15–Apr 15

Eastern Gamagrass
(Tripsacum dactyloides)

P, WS

D:10–15

¾–1.5

May 15–Jun 15

May 1–Jun 30

May 10–Jun 1

May 1–Jun 30

Apr 20–May 15

Apr 10–Jun 30

Nov–Feb

Nov–Jan

Nov–Jan

Flaccidgrass
(Pennisetun flaccidum)

P, WS

D:2–4

¼–½

Jun 1–15

May 15–Jul 1

May 15– Jul 7

Apr 15–Jul 1

May 7–Jun 1

Apr 15–Jun 15

2–3

Mar 1–Apr 7

Feb 15–Apr 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Feb 1–Mar 30

Feb 15–Mar 15

Feb 1–Mar 30

Sprig: 3/ft in 18” rows

Tillers: 2–4/ft

Root cover

May 15–Jun 15

May 1–Jul 15

Apr 25–Jun 1

Apr 15–Jul 15

Apr 25–May 20

Apr 15–Jul 10

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)

P, WS

B:10–12 PLS; D:8–10

½–¾

May 15–Jun 15

May 1–Jun 30

May 10–Jun 1

May 1–Jun 30

Apr 20–May 15

Apr 10–Jun 30

Lespedeza, Kobe (Kummerowia striata)

A, WS

B:30–40; D:20–25

¼–½

Mar 15–31

Mar 1–Apr 15

Feb 10–28

Feb 1–Mar 30

Feb 1–20

Feb 1–Mar 20

Lespedeza, Korean
(Kummerowia stipulacea)

A, WS

B:20–30; D: 15–20

¼–½

Mar 15–31

Mar 1–Apr 15

Feb 10–28

Feb 1–Mar 30

Feb 1–20

Feb 1–Mar 20

Millets:
Foxtail
(Setaria italica),
Japanese (Echinochloa sculenta),
Browntop (Urochloa ramosa)]

A, WS

D:10–15; R:5–7

½

Mar 15–31

May 1–Jun 30

May 1–31

May 1–Jun 30

May 1–15

Apr 20–Jun 30

Millet, Pearl
(Pennisetum glaucum)

A, WS

B:20–25; D:15–20; R:6–10

½

Mar 15–31

May 1–Jun 30

May 1–31

Apr 25–Jun 30

May 1–15

Apr 20–Jun 30

Oats
(Avena sativa)

A, CS

B:130; D:100

1–2

Aug 1–20

Aug 1–Sep 30

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Feb 20–Mar 20

Orchardgrass
(Dactylis glomerata)

P, CS

B:12–15; D:8–12

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Not well adapted

Mar 20–Apr 20

Mar 1–May 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Rape and Turnips (Brassica spp.)

A, CS

B: 6 to 8; D: 3–4

¼

Mar 1–Apr 30

Feb 15–May 10

Feb 15–Mar 15

Feb 1–Apr 15

Feb 15–Mar 1

Feb 1–Apr 1

Jul 15–Sep 1

Jul 1–Sep 15

Sep 15–Oct 15

Aug 1–Oct 1

Sep 1–Oct 1

Aug 15–Oct 30

Red Clover
(Trifolium pratense)

P, CS

B:10–15; D:8–10

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Sep 15–Oct 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Sep 1–30

Sep 1 –Oct 15

Mar 20–Apr 20

Mar 1–May 15

Feb 15–Mar 20

Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea)

P, CS

B:5–10; D:4–8

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Aug 25–Sep 15

Aug 25–Oct 25

Not well adapted

Mar 20–Apr 20

Mar 1–May 15

Mar 1–31

Rescuegrass
(Bromus catharticus)

A, CS

B:20–25; D:25–30

½–¾

Aug 20–Sep 7

Aug 15–Oct 1

Sep 1–15

Aug 25–Oct 15

Sep 1–30

Aug 25–Oct 15

Mar 15–30

Mar 1–Apr 30

Mar 1–30

Feb 15–Apr 30

Rye cereal
(Secale cereale)

A, CS

B:120; D:100

1–2

Aug 1–20

Aug 1–Oct 10

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Feb 20–Mar 20

Ryegrass
(Lolium multiflorum)

A, CS

B:30–40; D:20–30

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 31

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sept 1–Nov 15

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Oct 31

Feb 20–Mar 20

Feb 20–Mar 20

Sericea Lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)

P, WS

B:20–40; D:15–30

¼

Mar 15–Apr 15

Mar 1–Apr 30

Mar 1–20

Feb 15–Apr 30

Mar 1–20

Feb 15–Apr 30

Smooth Bromegrass (Bromus inermis)

P, CS

B:10–20; D:8–15

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Not well adapted

Not adapted

Mar 20–Apr 20

Mar 1–May 15

Sorghum
(Sorghum bicolor)

A, WS

R:4–6

1–1½

May 15–31

May 1–Jun 30

May 1–31

Apr 25–Jun 30

May 1–15

Apr 20–Jun 30

Sorghum–Sudan/sudangrass
(Sorghum bicolor)

A, WS

B:35–40; D:20–30; R:15–20

½–1

May 15–31

May 1–Jun 30

May 1–31

Apr 25–Jun 30

May 1–15

Apr 20–Jun 30

Switchgrass
(Panicum virgatum)

P, WS

B:8–12 PLS; D:6–10

½–¾

May 15–Jun 15

May 1–Jun 30

May 15–Jun 15

Apr 15–June 15

Apr 15–May 15

Apr 15–Jun 15

Tall Fescue
(Lolium arundinacea)

P, CS

B:15–20; D:10–15

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15
Feb 20–Mar 20

Not well adapted

Mar 20–Apr 20

Mar 1–May 15

Teff
(Eragrostis tef)

A, WS

B:10–12; D:8–10

1/8–¼

May 15–31

May–June 30

May 1–31

Apr 25–Jun 30

May 1–15

Apr 20–Jun 30

Timothy
(Phleum pratense)

P, CS

B:10–12; D:8–10

¼–½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 20

Not well adapted

Not adapted

Mar 20–Apr 20

Mar 1–May 15

Triticale
(Triticum x Secale)

A, CS

B: 120; D: 100

1–2

Aug 1–20

Aug 1–Oct 10

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Feb 20–Mar 20

White clover
(Trifolium repens)

P, CS

B: 3–5; D: 3–5

¼–½

Sep

Aug

Sep 15–Oct 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Sep 15–Oct 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Frost–seeded

Feb 1–15

Feb 15–28

Feb 1–15

Feb 15–28

Feb 1–15

Feb 15–28

Wheat
(Triticum aestivum)

A, CS

B: 120; D: 100

1–2

Aug 1–20

Aug 1–Oct 10

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Sep 15–Oct 15

Sep 1–Nov 15

Feb 20–Mar 20

Feb 20–Mar 20

Vetch, Common, Hairy (Vicia spp.)

Biennial, CS

B: 25–40; D: 20–30

½–1½

Jul 25–Aug 10

Jul 15–Aug 30

Aug 25–Sep 30

Aug 25–Oct 25

Sep 1–Sep 30

Sep 1–Oct 25

1 Fall dates may be extended by 20 days where elevation is below 2,500 feet, and seed 15 days earlier in spring.
2 For the black, heavy-textured soils in the tidewater region, use dates for the piedmont.

Table 2. Planting guidelines for grass-legume mixtures in North Carolina.

Crop

Seeding Rate
(lb./acre; PLS: pure live seed basis)

B: broadcast
D: drill (4–9” row)
R: row (30+ inches)

Planting Depth (inches)

Mountains
(above 2,500 ft. elevation)1
See footnote for
below 2,500 ft.

Piedmont and Tidewater2

Coastal Plain2

Dates (refer to Table 1)

Dates (refer to Table 1)

Dates (refer to Table 1)

Crimson Clover; Mixed with Ryegrass or Small Grain

B: 20
D: 15 reduce small grain by 30%

¼–½

Same as crimson clover

Same as crimson clover

Same as crimson clover

Orchardgrass + Alfalfa

B: 5 + 20
D: 3 + 15

¼

Same as alfalfa

Same as alfalfa

Not well adapted

Orchardgrass + Ladino Clover

B: 12 + 4
D: 9 + 3

¼

Same as orchardgrass

Same as orchardgrass

Not well adapted

Orchardgrass + Red Clover

B: 12 + 4
D: 8 + 3

¼

Same as orchardgrass

Same as orchardgrass

Not well adapted

Small Grain Mixed with Annual Ryegrass

Reduce small grain by 25% and ryegrass by 50%

½–1

See dates for small grains and ryegrass

See dates for small grains and ryegrass

See dates for small grains and ryegrass

Small Grain Mix (2 grains)

Reduce each selection by 50%

½–1

See dates for small grains

See dates for small grains

See dates for small grains

Tall Fescue + White Clover

B: 10 + 4
D: 8 + 3

¼

Same as tall fescue

Same as tall fescue

Same as tall fescue

Tall Fescue + Red Clover

B: 10 + 8
D: 8 + 6

¼

Same as tall fescue

Same as tall fescue

Same as tall fescue

1 Fall dates may be extended by 20 days where elevation is below 2,500 feet, and seed 15 days earlier in spring.
2 For the black, heavy-textured soils in the tidewater region, use dates for the Piedmont.

Overseeding

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Overseeding (also “interseeding” or “sod seeding”) is the practice of planting/introducing one type of forage into an existing stand of another already established forage. This practice is commonly used for overseeding cool-season annual forages (e.g., oats, wheat, rye, ryegrass, triticale) into existing stands of warm-season perennial grasses (e.g., bermudagrass, bahiagrass). When planting fescue or orchardgrass in existing sod, it is best to plant in the fall.

Seeding Rates

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(Video) Enhancing Forage Production Through Effective Weed Management

Seeding rates vary because of seed size, coating, purity, germination percentage, and seedling vigor (all of this information should be provided on the label of the seed bag). The percentage of seeds that will germinate generally declines with age, but if seeds are stored in a cool, dry place, gemination should not decline more than 10 percent in the first year. In general, seeds that have low germination levels also produce seedlings with poor vigor. Planting rates (lbs./acre) are provided on a pure live seed (PLS) basis. To determine PLS planting rates, refer to this PLS Calculator. Under adverse conditions, only 10 to 50 percent of the seeds planted will establish successfully. Consequently, many seeds are needed to obtain a satisfactory stand.

Broadcast vs. Drill

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Drilling concentrates the seeds within a furrow; therefore, seeds occupy a smaller area of the ground, and are better able to break through the soil crust. Planting rates for drilling or using a cultipacker seeder are 20 to 50 percent less than for broadcasting. Seed placement, soil-seed contact, and uniformity of stands usually fare better with drilling than with broadcasting, especially when planting conditions are not optimum.

Planting Depth

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Generally, small-seeded crops can be planted slightly deeper in sandy soils than in clay soils. Grasses can usually be planted deeper than legumes in similar soils. It is important, however, to prepare a firm seedbed before planting to conserve moisture and avoid variation in planting depth. Precision planting equipment is usually required to get proper depth control for small forage seeds, especially in minimum or no-till plantings.

What Is a Good Stand?

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Because plant characteristics change depending upon their density, age, grazing or cutting height, and other factors, it is difficult to say exactly how many plants it takes to make a good stand. In general, a good stand is one that provides 90 to 100 percent ground cover and will produce high yields when managed properly. The clover portion of mixtures should make up at least 30 percent of the stand (on a weight basis) in order for the clover to significantly contribute to the mixture. One should walk the fields several times each growing season in order to make a fair evaluation of stands.

When Using This Guide, Remember

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This guide serves as a tool to use in planning your forage system, but not all forages included will be successful in North Carolina’s climate. In fact, several crops have not performed satisfactorily in this state. Information about the varieties is included to increase the chance of success if the decision to plant them has already been made. Additional information on various forage varieties can be obtained by contacting your local county N.C. Cooperative Extension center.

Resources

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NC State Extension Local County Centers

NC State Extension Official Variety Testing

NC State Extension Planting Guide for Forage Crops in North Carolina Online Tool

University of Kentucky Forage Variety Trials

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Forage Variety Trials in Tennessee

(Video) Plant Party #4: Foraging into Fall

Acknowledgments

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the work on an earlier edition of this publication by the following individuals: J.T. Green, Professor Emeritus; J.P. Mueller, Professor Emeritus; and D.S. Chamblee, Professor Emeritus; and also acknowledge the peer-review of the current publication done by S. Ward, Dairy Extension Specialist; P. Siciliano, Professor; and J.T. Green, Professor Emeritus.

Miguel Castillo
Associate Professor and Forage Specialist
Crop & Soil Sciences
Dan Wells
Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Kim Woods
Area Agent, Agriculture - Animal Science
(Video) Forage Focus: Horsenettle
  • Keywords:
  • Forages
  • Forage Crops

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Forages

Publication date: Sept. 3, 2020
AG-266

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This publication printed on: Oct. 09, 2022

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(Video) Extending Summer Grazing: Annuals and Annual Mixtures

FAQs

How do you plant forage? ›

Plant during the time of year when rainfall is plentiful and temperatures are appropriate for the forage crop being planted. Use high-quality seed or planting material. Prepare a smooth, level, weed-free, and firm seedbed. Always plant into a seedbed with good soil moisture.

How do you maximize yield of forage crop? ›

Under irrigation or adequate rainfall, and with sufficient amounts of fertilizer, one could expect to harvest a total of 4.0-5.0 tons of hay per acre or 4-6 AUMs of grazing and still establish cool-season grasses. Inter-seeding into stubble after haying is an excellent option for establishing these cool-season grasses.

What is the best time of sowing or planting forages? ›

The most successful seedings are made during or just prior to periods of cool, moist weather. Most forages may be seeded in the early spring, late summer (Aug. 15 to Sept. 15), or mid-winter.

What is the fastest growing pasture grass? ›

Teff grass originates from Ethiopia. It is a warm-season annual grass that can be used for hay, silage, or pasture. It is fast growing, high yielding, and a forage of excellent quality.

How long does forage take to grow? ›

Teff is a warm-season grass that can be used for hay, silage, or pasture. Soils should be at least 60-65 F before planting Teff. The first crop should be ready in 40 to 50 days.

How late can you plant forage oats? ›

However, the typical recommendation is to plant oats between August 1st and 10th to maximize tonnage and quality, since the shorter day length triggers oats to grow more leaf instead of producing seed, but if planted too late in the year, there is not enough time for growth.

Can you broadcast forage oats? ›

Oats can be planted into crop residue if weeds are killed ahead of planting. They do not establish well when broadcast seeded.

How late can you plant oats for deer? ›

Oats are generally planted in late summer. However, the exact planting season depends on your local climate. Landowners in northern states should plant in late August or early September. In warmer climates, oats can be planted from September to early October.

What is the optimal time to harvest forages? ›

Harvest at earlier stages of maturity of both species increases duration and amount of regrowth. Adapted from Mitchell et al. (1994). range of harvest frequencies, but all cultivars were best when cut at early bloom and 35-d intervals compared to intervals of 25, 30, or 40 d (Probst and Smith, 2011).

What weeds are poisonous to cattle? ›

Poisonous plants found in cultivated fields include cocklebur, jimsonweed, milkweed, pigweed and johnsongrass. Wild cherry, milkweed and pokeweed are found along fence and hedge rows.

How do you improve fodder quality? ›

Measures to increase fodder availability
  1. Optimum utilization of land resources.
  2. Improving production by using high yielding fodder varieties.
  3. Enhanced fodder seed production.
  4. Adopting suitable crop combinations.
  5. Improvement of grasslands/wastelands and other community lands.

How late can alfalfa be planted? ›

PLANTING AFTER AUGUST 15TH IS NOT RECOMMENDED DUE TO THE LIKELIHOOD OF FROST CONDITIONS THAT CAN DAMAGE EMERGENT YOUNG PLANTS. Alfalfa requires a minimum of six weeks after germination, and before a killing frost to ensure survival.

When should you overseed a pasture? ›

Late winter's warm daytime temperatures and freezing nights are perfect for overseeding legumes into grass pastures or hay fields. The freeze-and-thaw cycle helps broadcasted seeds get into the soil. Overseeding saves time and money.

What is the best way to reseed a pasture? ›

Although there are many ways to plant, no-till drill seeding is the most recommended method for overseeding existing pastures. No-till drill seeding is a method that's been around for hundreds of years and is still used today. Instead of turning over the soil, a drill creates the separate seed furrows.

What grass has the most protein for cattle? ›

One of the best types of grass for cattle and other livestock is Bermuda grass. Bermuda grass, which is also a favorite of homeowners trying to grow a beautiful lawn, is relatively high in grass protein. Its crude protein levels can be as high as 16 percent, and it has a total digestible nutrient content of 55 percent.

What is the best forage for cattle? ›

Some of the most well-known legumes in the cattle world are alfalfa and clover. These grow very well with many other grasses. And, because many legume varieties are quite dense, growing enough of them can help cut down on unwanted weeds while boosting soil integrity.

What is the best grass to grow for livestock? ›

Alfalfa- It is probably the best high quality feed for livestock and as a cash crop but it requires deep, well drained soils and high fertility for high yields. While it can be used for grazing, it is best adapted for hay or silage.

What is a good fertilizer mix for pasture? ›

Grass Needs N

Nitrogen fertilizer should be considered for a grass dominant pasture. Research indicates that the first 30 to 50 pounds per acre of nitrogen are used most efficiently and that split applications of this amount generally maximize yield.

Can you broadcast pasture seed? ›

Broadcast Seeding

It can be done with a hand-held seed spreader (for smaller pastures) or a larger spreader attached or pulled by an ATV, truck or small tractor. Broadcast seeding works best in combination with conventional tillage.

How do you seed a pasture without tilling? ›

There are several rules that must be followed for no-till seeding to be successful. The five most important are: proper soil testing, minimizing competition from existing sod, seeding on the proper date, using high quality seed, and controlling the depth of seeding.

Can you no till Buck Forage Oats? ›

No till drilling is highly recommended. – Disc or till ground to produce a soft seed bed. – If broadcast, re-disc the plot with the disc blades 4 inches deep for best results. If drilled, consult drill maker setting and set seed 2 inches deep in the soil.

Will oats survive winter? ›

Oats are a cool-weather crop that can tolerate light frosts but is usually killed by temperatures below 5F (-15C).

How late can you plant oats in the spring? ›

The window for spring-planted oat is between February 15 and March 10. If dry weather and above freezing temperatures occur in late January and early February, the planting date can be shifted closer to February 15.

Can you plant oats and clover together? ›

It's hard to beat the oats-and-clover combo. This green-on-grain duo is perfect for planting in tight corridors. These plots are a little more resistant to over browsing than option No. 1, too.

Can you plant oats and rye together? ›

Use Oats and Winter Cereal Rye for cover crops for fall and spring grazing

When should I broadcast oats? ›

Spring oats are broadcast in mid or late March with a fertilizer cart and then rotary harrowed. If going back to corn, they seed at a heavier, 3.5 bu rate, expecting only about 5 or 6 weeks of growth before they work down the cover crop with a soil finisher and plant corn in early May.

Is oatmeal good for deer? ›

As previously mentioned, oats are highly favored by deer and they consistently rank among the top species consumed by deer in forage preference trials. Oats are highly nutritious as well. In well-managed food plots with a neutral soil pH and good fertility, oats can contain more than 25% crude protein.

What can you plant in December for deer? ›

Brassica blends such as Maximum, Deer Radish or Winter Bulbs & Sugar Beets, containing plants with staggered maturity and palatability dates are ideal for this task. After your cereal grains and clovers have been browsed down and covered in snow, brassicas are very attractive and highly preferred by whitetails.

Will oats grow without tilling? ›

1 regardless of what you're planting. Next, go ahead and spray for weeds while you're waiting on the test results from the lab. Then, once you have those in hand, apply fertilizer and lime as needed. Oats require well-tilled soil.

What growth stage is best for harvesting perennial forages? ›

The recommended time to harvest forage cereals is at the soft dough stage. This later harvesting results in much higher dry matter (DM) yields but of slightly lower energy and much lower crude protein levels than at the vegetative stage.

Does oats make good silage? ›

Oat forage intended for silage can be harvested at boot, milky dough or soft dough stage. When cut at boot stage, oat silage has a low DM, high palatability, high energy and high protein content.

Which crop is best for silage making? ›

The fodder crops, such as maize, sorghum, oats, pearl millet, and hybrid napier rich in soluble carbohydrates are most suitable for fodder ensiling. Quality of silage can be improved with the use of suitable additives such as molasses, urea, salt, formic acid etc.

What grass kills cows? ›

When the first frost hits, beef producers should be concerned for grazing cattle if the field contains Johnsongrass. Cattle may suffer from prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) poisoning caused by this grass, which by the way, is an excellent forage for cattle if properly managed.

Can cows eat potato peels? ›

THE potato skins may be nutritious, and eelworms would be killed off by the steaming or in the gut of the cattle. But the almost indestructible eelworm cysts are another matter. The nutritional value of potato skins would differ from that of whole potatoes.

What tree is poisonous to cows? ›

The top five trees poisonous to large animals are the red maple, oak, box elder, chokecherry and black walnut. Careful attention must be paid to animals pastured close to these trees, and every effort must be made to prevent access.

What is the difference between fodder and forage? ›

Fodder refers mostly the crops which are harvested and used for stall feeding. Forage may be defined as the vegetative matter, fresh or preserved, utilised as feed for animals. Forage crops include grasses, legumes, crucifers and other crops cultivated and used in the form of hay, pasture, fodder and silage.

What are the two types of forages? ›

Forages may be annuals or perennials. Annual grasses such as sudan grass, sorghum, their hybrids, and corn need more careful attention than perennial forages, but usually repay such careful attention with very high yields.

How many pounds per acre do you plant alfalfa? ›

Seeding rates should be between 12 and 15 pounds per acre. Prescribed seeding rates are designed to provide several times the seed needed to achieve optimal yield under ideal growing conditions. Seeding rates above 15 pounds per acre have no positive impact on yield (Table 3).

Can you mix clover and alfalfa? ›

Frosty berseem clover mixed with alfalfa can boost yields of hay by almost 30%. If your alfalfa field is now 5 or 6 years old and starting to lose fullness, overseeding that field with Frosty berseem clover might be a way to beef up your hay harvest through the summer.

Can you plant oats and alfalfa together? ›

Alfalfa often may be seeded with a companion crop like oats to control weeds and erosion and provide a crop of grain or hay. Clear seeding alfalfa alone, without a companion crop, also works well.

How do you thicken pasture grass? ›

Over Seeding a Pasture - YouTube

How many pounds of grass seed is needed per acre of pasture? ›

Seeding Rate is 25 lbs per acre if using a seed drill to plant with in rows. If broadcasting seed by hand or with a broadcast spreader you will need 2 to 2.5 times more seed than the drill rate which is 50 to 62.5 lbs per acre. The best time to plant is when the soil temperatures are between 50 and 65 degrees F.

How do you make pastures grow faster? ›

In early spring, you can boost the leafy growth of your pastures by adding 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre, as long as your pasture does not consist of legumes, such as alfalfa or clovers. Applying the correct amount of fertilizer does not guarantee a healthy pasture if the pH level is too low.

Can you just broadcast grass seed? ›

Broadcast the seed of your choice. This can be done by hand or with a spreader onto the prepared areas of your lawn. Check the directions on the grass seed packaging to ensure you use the correct spreader setting for the grass seed type. Gently rake the newly sown grass seeds into the prepared soil with a leaf rake.

How often should you mow a pasture? ›

Mow pastures to a height of 4 inches three to four times a year or after rotating horses to control most annual weeds. Never mow below 3 inches and avoid overgrazing.

Can you seed pasture in the spring? ›

Seeding made in late winter/early spring will usually be ready for grazing 3 to 4 months later. the time of seeding, either through tillage, herbicide application, or both. For best results, the weed control program should begin 6 months to a year before seeding.

What is forage Seeding? ›

It consists of spring planted pure alfalfa, alfalfa grass mix, pure birdsfoot trefoil, or birdsfoot trefoil grass mix; You have a share; It is grown solely for harvest as certified seed or under a forage seed contract that is executed on or before the acreage reporting date; and. It achieves a normal stand.

What is the purpose of forages in Florida? ›

Bahiagrass, bermudagrass, millet, and sorghum are grown in Florida for livestock feed and as cover crops.

What are the ensiling materials? ›

Materials such as maize stover and grass can be ensiled successfully, while crop residues such as rice and wheat straw, with low WSC content, do not fulfil these requirements, and therefore pre-treatments, such as fine chopping or use of additives, or both, may be necessary.

What is the grazing management? ›

DEFINITION: Grazing management systems aim to produce high-quality forage to feed livestock for as much of the year as possible. There are several different system options: continuous, simple rotational, and intensive rotational.

Can you frost seed clover on top of snow? ›

Seeding should be done when the ground is still frozen. Avoid seeding on heavy snow since a fast melt may wash off seeds. Frost seeding on top of snow, especially with fertilizer, is not recommended because rapid snow melting may cause the seed to be washed off the pasture.

What are the two types of forages? ›

Forages may be annuals or perennials. Annual grasses such as sudan grass, sorghum, their hybrids, and corn need more careful attention than perennial forages, but usually repay such careful attention with very high yields.

What kind of hay grows in Florida? ›

Many kinds of grasses and legumes are grown in Florida as hay for livestock. Some of the most popular are coastal Bermuda grass, Argentine bahiagrass, Alicia, perennial peanut and wheat straw.

Does silage need molasses? ›

Molasses is a good silage additive, because it is high in water soluble carbohydrates content (about 500 g/kg DM) and reduced the pH and ammonia levels in treated silages (McDonald et al 2002).

Is silage considered a forage? ›

Silage is a staple forage on dairy farms. High-level management and sizeable financial outlays are necessary to efficiently produce, harvest, store and feed silage.

Is silage better than hay? ›

Silage has several advantages over hay as a mechanically harvested product. Silage has more nutrients preserved per acre because there is less field loss. Silage is also less affected by weather damage because the forage does not lie in the field drying.

What are the three methods of grazing? ›

The different methods of grazing are; Zero grazing or stall-feeding. Herding. Rotational grazing.

How do you improve pasture soil? ›

Practices such as prevention of overgrazing and increasing forage species diversity can help livestock producers increase soil health in pastureland. Overgrazing of forages reduces ground cover, increasing risk of soil erosion and nutrient runoff. Overgrazing also increases compaction and reduces forage stands.

What is optimal grazing of vegetation? ›

Optimum grazing efficiency exploits the inherent capacity of grasses (and legumes) to recover following defoliation, providing additional forage for later consumption. This is the goal in pasture management. Livestock are selective in their grazing habits.

Videos

1. Pasture Weed Management and Identification for Livestock Farmers
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2. Cover crops: quantifying benefits and improving management
(VA Extension)
3. Fire Ants and Nuisance Ant Pests of the Southeastern US—April 21, 2022
(The Center for Urban Agriculture)
4. Local Meat Production - Farm to Market Webinar: Poultry Meat & Egg Production
(NDSUExtension)
5. Cover Crops in Small Gardens
(Illinois Extension Local Foods and Small Farms)
6. Native Warm Season Grasses for Forage Production
(UT Extension Smith County)
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