Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
April 20, 2000

Seeding Decisions

Several individuals have asked the question when should grasses and/or legumes be planted for seeding pastures or meadows. This is a rather tough question, and it always relates to the weather. Guessing what is ahead for moisture and temperature requires considerable thought before spending the actual dollars.

Regardless of the seed bed preparation, soil ph, level of soil fertility, seed inoculation, depth of planting, or competition from companion crops or weeds, moisture is a major determining factor. The spring of 2000 hasn’t been flush with an abundance of moisture and many individuals have questioned the decision of spring seeding. Last week I had the opportunity of hearing a weather update by Pat Guinan, Extension Associate Climatologist, University of Missouri, regarding the weather outlook. Pat’s thoughts indicated we were in a situation similar to the drought of 1988 which could last for several months. He also indicated water will be in short supply and conserving is certainly on the minds of many community leaders. La Nina will probably end by mid summer, but we still will have above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation throughout much of the summer. This is not a pretty picture for the agriculture community.

Utilize the drought monitor assistance available for making the decision between spring and fall seeding. This information is available at http://enso.unl.edu/monitor/monitor.html and can be downloaded and printed for your convenience. Much of the central United States is presently listed as abnormally dry, first stage drought, or severe drought. None of these conditions present a favorable establishment and growing condition for seeding forages at the present time.

Regardless of the weather conditions there are some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to establishing a forage crop. Drought is the most common given reason for stand failure. It is a must that the seed have contact with the soil. Without seed/soil contact you can expect a reduction in stand. There must be sufficient soil moisture if the establishment of the desired plants is to occur. Without moisture the plants are almost sure to die before they have the opportunity to establish a root system that will provide adequate moisture.

Seed placed in loose surface soil may germinate after a light rain but dry out and die before developing sufficient roots for establishment. This is a concern for many producers at the present time. The cool dry April for much of the central U.S. has not presented a favorable planting season for the establishment of forages.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - April 20, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT042000.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004