How to Plant Sudan Grass

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Sudan grass is grown for cover crops, silage and hay.
Sudan grass is grown for cover crops, silage and hay. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Sudan grass is a warm-weather annual that achieves 6 to 8 feet in height. The grass is utilized as an organic cover crop, hay or silage material. Sudan grass will die when subjected to a heavy frost. The seed has a high germination rate, 95 percent, when subjected to a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of six days. Daytime temperatures that exceed 104 F greatly reduce the germination rate of the newly planted seed. Sudan grass seed is best planted after all danger of frost has passed and soil temperatures exceed 60 F.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test
  • Tractor with plow or rototiller
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Garden rake or mechanical leveler
  • Sudan grass seed
  • Seed broadcaster

Collect soil from several locations around the Sudan grass planting area. Combine the soil together and allow it to dry. Deliver the soil sample to your local agricultural extension service for nitrogen analysis.

Cultivate the area to remove all existing vegetation. Use a rototiller on small plots and a tractor and plow for larger areas.

Apply the recommended amounts of nitrogen fertilizer based on the soil-test results. Incorporate the fertilizer into the soil using the same cultivation method.

Level the soil as much as possible using a garden rake for small plots and a mechanical leveler pulled by the tractor for large fields. High and low spots in the soil will cause uneven growth in the Sudan grass.

Broadcast the Sudan grass seed at a rate of 120 to 150 lbs. per acre for hay and 20 to 60 lbs. per acre for a cover crop. Density seed rates depend fully on the types of soil in the field or small plot. Consult your soil test for further seeding recommendations.

Tips & Warnings

  • 120 to 150 lbs. of Sudan grass seed per acre equals 3 to 3.5 lbs. per 1,000 square feet.

References

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