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Reed canarygrass seeding study

Reed canarygrass is a high yielding, high quality perennial cool season grass that can be the most difficult cool-season perennial grass to establish in the Northeast USA. Farmers often state that it takes up to a year longer for reed canarygrass to become fully established, compared to other cool-season grasses. Reed canarygrass works best with a prepared seedbed and is not recommended for seeding into an unprepared seedbed, especially frost seeding. The nationally recommended seeding rate for reed canarygrass is 5 to 9 lbs per acre, while current University recommendations in the Northeast range from 8 to 14 lbs of seed/acre. Some organizations are recommending higher seeding rates for reed canarygrass, partly to help solve a perceived establishment problem.

Our objective was to determine if an increase in the recommended seeding rate of reed canarygrass will speed up stand establishment and increase yield over the life of the stand. Plots were seeded with Rival reed canarygrass in prepared seedbeds at 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 lbs per acre in early August of 2001 and 2002 at three sites [GIS-12]. Three harvests/year were made for two years after seeding and stands were evaluated for tiller development in the spring of the first production year.

Conclusions:

  • Under ideal conditions a 5 lb/acre seeding rate might be sufficient, but ideal conditions cannot be relied upon.
  • Seeding rates as low as 5 lb/acre produced as much yield in the second year after seeding as higher seeding rates, but not always in the year following seeding.
  • This data does not suggest a change in reed canarygrass seeding rates in the Northeast.
  • Poor seedbed conditions or improper placement of seed will probably have a greater negative impact on reed canarygrass than other grasses.