Plan Now For 2003 New Forage Seedings
By Scott Banks
- Crop Specialist, Kemptville OMAF
Start now to plan for next year’s spring forage seeding. Early spring seeding, greatly improves the success of establishing a new forage seeding. Preparing the field now will allow for an early spring seeding. The fall is the best time to correct any pH problems. Legume plants like alfalfa and trefoil, thrive and yield better with a soil pH above 6.1. A target pH should be 6.5. Taking soil samples now can help identify areas in your field that may need added lime to correct low pH. If needed, applying lime this fall will give the soil a chance to adjust its pH prior to seeding next spring. The best way to select soil sampling areas or zones in your fields is by soil type, topography and previous field history. If soil phosphorus levels are low, applying phosphorus at seeding will give you the most bang for your buck. Some potash can also be applied at seeding, but plan to follow with a late summer application if potassium levels are low.
It is important to have a seeding depth of _ to _ of inch and a firm seedbed when seeding forages. Growers have had great success at no-till seeding forages into soybean or edible bean stubble because there is little crop residue and the soil is firm. No-till seeding of forages in fields that have a lot of crop residue such as grain corn or wheat can result in poor seed-to-soil contact from ‘hair-pinning’ on the residue. In these situations or if the field is uneven or rutted, fall tillage is a good idea to incorporate the residue and to level the surface to improve seed placement.
If you have quackgrass in a field that you to plan to seed down next spring, a burndown application of a glyphosate herbicide (Round Up, Touchdown, etc.) before fall tillage is recommended. This fall herbicide application has been shown to significantly improve the control of perennial weeds such as quackgrass when compared to tillage alone.
How Late Can I Spray A Fall Burn Down ?
During the fall, quackgrass does most of its growing under ground. Quackgrass is a fairly hardy plant and nighttime temperatures of -3?C will not have stopped the growth. If the temperature drops below -5? C or colder, wait 2 to 3 days to see if the quackgrass stays a healthy green colour. If the quackgrass is 60% green or more, the herbicide will be effective. Morning dew does not reduce quackgrass control unless high rates of water and/or low herbicide rates are used. If you plan to no-till forage seed, a burndown this fall will also improve control of problem weeds like dandelions. If livestock manure is to be applied to the field this fall, the herbicide application should be done before the manure is applied.
Soil sampling and correcting the soil pH where needed, managing crop residue and perennial weed control this fall are key steps to successful forage establishment.
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