How to Plant Pasture Seeds

Plant Pasture Seeds
Plant Pasture Seeds (Image: Stock.Xchng)

Frost seeding, sometimes called overseeding, is an easy way to replenish a pasture. The method involves broadcasting a seed mix onto your thinning pasture. The best time of year for seeding pastures is late winter or early spring when the days are beginning to warm but the nights are still below freezing. The alternating temperatures loosen the soil and allow seeds to take hold and germinate. Simply spread your seeds and let nature do the rest.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed mix
  • Broadcast spreader

Enlist the aid of your livestock. The season prior to frost seeding, allow them to graze the pasture as short as possible. The shorter the grass, the better the contact between seed and soil.

Choose your seed mix. Look for a suitable mix that is appropriate for your climate and soil conditions. Your local agricultural extension can help you test and improve your soil and make recommendations based on these findings. Possible seeds to include in your mix include red clover, ladino clover, rye grasses and bird's foot trefoil

Choose your seeding site. Frost seeding works best in thin stands of pasture grass where the seed can make contact with the ground in order to germinate. In thick stands, the seeds will sit above ground and fail to establish.

Consult the calendar. In most parts of the U.S., late February or early March is the ideal time for seeding. A light, patchy snow cover of less than two inches is fine; more than that may cause a runoff of valuable seed when the snow melts.

Broadcast your seed with a broadcast spreader. You will need to control weeds during the first three months and restrict heavy grazing until the stand is well-established.

Tips & Warnings

  • Alfalfa is autotoxic; it will not establish on old alfalfa stands. To re-establish an existing stand, alfalfa must be rotated out of the pasture for at least one year.
  • To avoid dew poisoning, a type of dermatitis that affects pasterns and fetlocks, do not use Alsike clover.

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