- Dr. Jimmy Henning, Adapted from Grazing News
Literally thousands of acres of Kentucky pasture and hay fields are overseeded with clover, much of it frost-seeded in late winter. Yet this is one of the few times where crops are seeded where we halfway expect not to get a stand. You would not accept this for corn or soybeans. Here are a few tips to ensure you have the best chance of getting clover established from a frost-seeding.
1) Address soil fertility needs. Get a current soil test, and apply the needed nutrients. Clovers need soil that is pH 6.5 to 7 and medium or better in P and K. Do not apply additional N except for that supplied from diammonium phosphate (DAP) if used to supply the needed P. But get the soil test; anything else is just a guess.
2) Select a good variety. Choose an improved variety with known performance and genetics. Choosing a better red clover variety can mean as much as three tons of additional hay and longer stand life. Spread enough seed. UK recommends 6 to 8 pounds of red and 1 to 2 pounds of white/ladino clover per acre. Apply higher rates if using only one clover type. Applying the minimum (6 lb. red and 1 lb. white) will put over 50 seeds per square foot on the field (37 red, 18 white).
3) Make sure seed lands on bare soil. Excess grass or thatch must be grazed and/or disturbed until there is bare ground showing prior to overseeding. The biggest cause of seeding failure with frost seedings is too much ground cover. Judicious cattle traffic or dragging with a chain harrow can accomplish this.
4) Get good seed-soil contact. With frost seeding, we depend on the rain and snow or freeze-thaw action of the soil surface to work the clover seed into the top ¼ inch of soil. A corrugated roller can also be used soon after seeding to ensure good soil contact.
5) Control competition next spring. Do not apply additional N on overseeded fields next spring, and be prepared to do some timely mowing if grass or spring weeds get up above the clover. Clover is an aggressive seeding but will establish faster and thicker if grass and weed competition is controlled.
Clover can be reliably established into existing grass pastures with a little attention to detail. Soil fertility, variety, seeding rate, seed placement and competition control are the major keys to success.
The Mid-South Stocker Conference will be back in Kentucky in 2018 at the Logan County Extension office in Russellville, Kentucky. Mark your calendars to join us on March 7th, 2018 beginning at 8:00 am CT with registration and plan to stay the day with us. The Logan County Extension office will be a great venue for the conference. The facility provides plenty of space for the trade show as well as the educational sessions. The Logan county area had been identified as a desirable location several years ago. It is near the Tennessee border and between the I-65 corridor and the western Kentucky region that is home to several stocker and backgrounding operations.
This year’s theme, “Pursuing Greater Profits”, lays the foundation for this year’s conference. Speakers from South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee and Kentucky will be providing valuable information to assist the stocker and backgrounding operations in the region to find additional profit margins in their business. Confinement housing considerations, recent findings in mineral supplementation, and alternative forage options topics are slated to kick off the educational sessions. Participants will have time to view the trade-show and visit with vendors in the morning, lunch and early afternoon to learn about products and services available. In the afternoon, topics include accessing international markets, virtual tours of local operations, managing health of feeder cattle and a cattle market outlook will round out the program.
After January 31st, registration will increase to $65. You may register either online or by mailing in the registration form. Additional information on how to register and the complete agenda can be found on the Mid-South Stocker website housed by UT at https://ag.tennessee.edu/midsouthstockerconference You may also contact Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-257-2853 for additional information. We look forward to seeing you in March in Logan county.