In this blog, Feed Manager and Farm Trader Alasdair Ralston explains how this year has highlighted why now – more so than the spring – is the preferred time to be sowing grass seed.
At this time of year, farmers have got the opportunity to put in grass seed – and now is as good a time as any for grass seeds because they’ve got their winter keep.
For those putting in grass seed in the spring, there is the increased likelihood of being hit by a drought, with this year being a classic example.
There was such a lack of rain throughout March, April and May that those little grass seeds didn’t establish quickly at all. The weeds did, though, because they never seem to suffer from drought and, as a result, the young grasses were more dirty with weeds than normal due to the delay in germination.
What’s more, it meant that farmers couldn’t shut off the fields for silage because their grazing ground wasn’t performing because of the drought.
For me, this year has only highlighted a growing problem because, during spring, that’s when all the livestock is needed as much as possible, because the lambs have just arrived, the cows are having calves and you’re wanting to keep fields set aside for silage production, so you’re really limited for space.
Over and above that, in the spring you’ve got greater competition from weeds, whereas if you put the grass seed in at this time of year, there’s not as big a weed burden. This is more important than ever as a key clover safe herbicide will be withdrawn from sale in October 2020.
By putting grass seed in now, you can let the whole field consolidate.
This is important because if you sow the grass seed in the spring, sometimes farmers will try to make silage from it that same year. To make silage nowadays, all of the tractors and forage harvesters are so heavy that it makes a mess of the young grass and field, especially if the weather was to be wet.
So, if you were to put the grass seed in now, by the time next year comes, the field can carry the weight of the machines a lot better and you don’t run the risk of ruining the young grass. So every year, it’s becoming less and less risky to put grass seed in now than in the spring.
To download our 2020 Grass Seed Brochure, click here.
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