As summer begins to wind down, now is a great time to begin to evaluate the grass in our lawns and the grass and legumes in our fields. Establishment or reestablishment of a healthy stand of grass is the best way to control weeds, save water and increase grazing animal and hay making performance. While it is still a bit warm to begin spreading or drilling seeds in earnest, it is time to begin to prepare the soil to receive and feed the seeds that we expect to thrive.
You may be sick of hearing this, but the first place to begin is with a soil test. Testing the soil for grass and legume seeding is simple but requires some time to insure accurate results. For the best results, consult our office at 276-783-5175; we have the proper forms, boxes and expertise to assist you. Soil testing for lawns is $10, but when you consider the money invested in a well-maintained lawn, why stop on such an important piece of information, which is less than the cost of a can of fuel? Once you get the analysis back, if you don’t understand it, don’t panic. We can pull up your samples from the past three years and walk you through the results leading to a prescribed feeding of your land.
Getting the soil fertility up prior to seeding just makes sense. It is also a great place to waste a bunch of money in a hurry. A common mistake is putting down the some fertilizers and lime amendments “just like we have done for the past few years.” Getting the pH of your soil is critical for optimum fertilizer utilization; however, it is possible to overdo it. Lime broadcast this fall will not fully be utilized by the soil until 2022 or 2023. Be sure to note on the form if you have applied lime to the soil recently.
After you have the nutrient needs figured out, you may have to consider weed control. The type and methods of control are dependent on two important factors. First, what problem weeds and plants are out there and in what amount? Second, what are you seeding back in place of the current sward and what effect will your control have on the intended replacements. Different control methods require different time spans to seeding… from a week or so up to two years. By working ahead now, you can plan the new seeding without running into an unexpected delay next month.
Here is just a bit of advice when it comes to actually sowing grass seeds. When you finish sowing grass, about 50% of the seeds should be visible on top of the ground. Most of the problems associated with sowing grass seeds is that they planted too deep to germinate. A good rule of thumb is that grass seeds need to be planted no deeper than half their diameter, which would be about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. Most mechanical planting equipment places seeds about twice that deep so broadcasting seeds before a rain or lightly dragging the ground is generally more effective than a drill. Grass seeders “walk” the seed in so they are most effective, but also very expensive.
With the proper fertilization and using the cooler weather to promote water conservation and root development, your lawn, pasture or hay field should yield great results for years to come.
July 25-Aug. 1--Rich Valley Fair.
Sept. 28 – Oct. 3--State Fair of Virginia.
Oct. 14--Smyth County 4th Grade Ag Field Day.
Oct. 16--Deadline to Consign Calves to the Nov. 11 VQA Sale.
Oct. 20-22--Sunbelt Ag Expo.
Oct. 30--Deadline to Consign Calves to the Dec. 2 VQA Sale.
Nov. 11--VQA Calf Sale, Tri State Livestock Market, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16--VQA Steer Take Up.
Nov. 16--Private Pesticide Recertification Course, 6 p.m.
Nov. 18--VQA Heifer Take Up.
Nov. 19--Private Pesticide Recertification Course, 8:30 a.m.
If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in these activities, call Andy Overbay or Pam Testerman at 276-783-5175/TDD 800-828-1120 from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.
Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.
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