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Late Summer Seeding

Spring seedings are difficult in very wet springs, and in some cases can compete with corn planting for time and labor. Late-summer seedings generally have fewer weed problems, can follow another crop, and occur during a time of fewer time and labor constraints on the farm. Moisture and seeding depth control are the keys to successful late summer forage seeding. If the land is idle during the summer, the seedbed should be prepared in early or mid summer to allow for moisture conservation. Another moisture-conserving option is to eliminate weeds with a herbicide, followed by a no-till seeding.

The advantage of being able to grow an extra crop prior to a late summer seeding can end up a severe disadvantage if that crop removes all available moisture from the soil profile. Likewise, a small grain or other companion crop is not recommended with a summer seeding. The most common cause of seeding failures due to planting technique is placing seed too deep. Reed canarygrass should be planted in late July because seedlings need 6 weeks of growth before a hard freeze. Other perennial grasses should be seeded by mid-August in northern NY or late August in southern NY. Delayed late summer seeding of grasses from mid-August to mid-September at three sites in Wisconsin generally resulted in a one ton/acre yield loss the following year.