Hello. I have a property in Clinton county with a 3 acre food plot. I would like to try a Tetraploid rye in half of it. I will probably not be able to plant before May 1. Will the rye develop well planting this late? Should I use an herbicide prior to tilling? Should I apply Nitrogen prior to tilling? Thank You, Pat Walsh
Clinton County Pennsylvania
Probably the best time to do seeding is in the fall. Germinating seeds have the cool fall months to start establishment, hunker down over winter, and then another cool season (spring) to become even more established before summer the summer months. Summers can be very variable in Clinton County. They could be cool and wet or very hot and dry. If we experience the latter, then May planting grass can really suffer (just doesn't have an established root system to weather short term droughts. Short term droughts are generally 1-3 months without a soil soaking water event).
There is some pretty good Extension fact sheets out there that go into detail on food plots. I don't know your overall objective but I am assuming deer? If so, Purdue has an excellent fact sheet at https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR-194.pdf There are several paragraphs that pertain to the herbicide issue in which I have added below:
'For areas dominated by fescue sod, first remove the excess vegetation in late summer by mowing, burning, or haying. During September and October when the fescue is actively growing (60-70o F) and is 8 to 12 inches tall, apply a glyphosate (i.e., RoundUp®) herbicide at the labeled rate, combined with 17 lbs. of ammonium sulfate and 1 quart of methylated seed oil (MSO) per acre. The following spring, when grasses and other plants are 6 to 12 inches tall (usually mid- to late-April), spray another application of the formulation listed above. Note that the MSO is unnecessary for herbicides such as RoundUp Ultra® that contain a surfactant. If light to moderate residue remains, no-till drilling is an option. Frequently, some disking is necessary to break up existing fescue residue. Disk 7 to 14 days after herbicide application for best results.'
Yes, nitrogen would help but it is more than nitrogen. What is the pH of you soil? Levels of P and K? Penn State does a soil test for wildlife food plots and more info can be found at http://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing/soil-fertility-testing/handbooks/agronomic/recommendations/mi...