I'd like help selecting seed for a new establishment of a year round pasture...

Asked March 5, 2018, 6:49 PM EST

I'd like help selecting seed for a new establishment of a year round pasture for sheep. In Virginia I established a cool season pasture of MaxQfescue, ladino clover, lespedeza and chicory and it worked very well, and I had stockpiled forage over winter. My warm season pasture wasn't as successful (I planted bermuda grass that didn't take at all and I had a big expensive weed field). Will my cool season choices work here in Preble County Ohio? And what should I do for better warm season pasture that doesn't get overtaken by weeds? Do I need a first year cover crop to help it establish (like oats)?

Preble County Ohio

1 Response

As long as you prepare the seedbed appropriately, it is a well-drained soil, and you purchase seed from a reputable dealer, yes your combination of MaxQ, ladino, lespedeza, and chicory should preform well in Preble County.

For establishment of your warm-season pasture, you will want to start with a seedbed that is as free of weeds as possible. You may want to use a combination of techniques to prepare the seedbed that include herbicide application, tillage, and/or competition.

Something that can often happen is that a weed explosion occurs after tillage, which then out competes the desired crop. A strategy that may work is to use glyphosate in the fall to kill the current cover. Followed by planting a winter cover crop (wheat, rye, barley, triticale) that can be grazed in early winter and spring. Terminate the cover crop in spring by tillage and/or herbicide before seeding warm-season forages.

Seed warm-season grasses and legumes separately with time to evaluate remaining weed problems in between. Establish fast growing annual grasses first to compete with other remaining grass weeds. Use a broad leaf herbicide before adding legumes or forbs. You could broadcast warm-season legumes into the grass stand and interseed additional desired grasses with a no-till drill in late-summer/early fall.

Bermudagrass has patchy success in Southern Ohio. In many places it grows well and persists through winters, but in some places it does not, which is likely determined by regional weather events, establishment success, grazing, and fertility management.

I prefer to recommend establishing a mixed stand of big bluestem and indiangrass or using summer annuals for warm-season pastures in our region (sudangrass, sorgum-sudangrass, pearl millet, or teff).

Lespedeza is one of the few warm-season perennial legumes that will persist in Ohio. Annual legumes like cowpea or grazing soybeans may be options for interseeding.

I hope that this response is helpful. If you need additional information you can contact me by email at gelley.2@osu.edu.