It is best to control any weed pressure before seeding the site. A non-selective contact herbicide such as Roundup should be used to kill any weeds prior to seeding. If possible, it is best to plant into a dead litter cover crop, such as a terminated wheat or hay grazer stubble. The dead litter cover crop will protect the new seedlings as they start to establish. If a dead litter cover crop is not available, a nurse crop species can be added to the seed blend to offer quick erosion control, stabilizing the seedbed, and allowing for the target species to germinate and establish.
The amount of seed planted can vary based on the species in the blend. However, most pasture blends need to target at least 10 pounds per acre. Increasing your seeding rate will increase your plant population, thereby establishing the grass stand quicker. The seed can either be drilled or broadcasted. A grass drill or no-till grass drill can be used if the area is to be drilled. Ensure that depth bands are used to prevent the seed from being planted deeper than ½ inch. If the seed is broadcasted, the site should be rolled or cultipacked after the seed is spread. Rolling or cultipacking will insure good seed to soil contact. It is recommended that the seeding rate be increased by 50-100% when sites are broadcast seeded.
We do not recommend applying fertilizer at seeding time because it promotes weed growth. If a soil test has been conducted, apply fertilizer at the recommended rate. If tests have not been conducted, apply 2 pounds of nitrogen and 1 pound of phosphate per 1000 square feet or 50 pounds of 50 – 25 – 0 per acre 3 times a year after plants are 6 to 8 weeks old.
Post-seeding weed pressure is proportional to the level of weed control achieved during site preparation. Therefore, weed control during site preparation will determine your weed control methods after the grass is planted. Weeds that are actively growing can be mowed/shredded while the pasture is establishing. Once the site is established, any weed management with herbicides should follow the herbicide label. There are numerous broadleaf herbicides (2,4-D; Dicamba, Banvel, Cimarron Max, Plateau) on the market that will provide good weed control.
Grazing should be deferred for 60-90 days in areas that receive 25” of annual rainfall. In areas receiving less than 25” of annual rainfall grazing should be deferred 90-365 days depending on the plant growth. Grazing deferment allows time for the root system to fully develop. Grazing a pasture before the root system is developed can lead to a weak overall establishment.