The key to productive pasture is ensuring that all the effort in weed control and fertilizing is benefiting the grass that is established and will produce needed forage. If a thin grass stand is in place or overgrazing killed some of it growers will need to replace those plants with new ones. Now is the time to get the seed and be ready once the snow melts in February to over seed. Here are a couple of tips.
i. Over seed with full rates of seed in February of each year until the pasture is completely covered by grass as a frost seed or in August before fall rains or even better a hurricane.
1. Grasses like Orchard grass 10 lbs, bluegrass 8 lbs, ryegrass 6 lbs and smooth brome grass 14 lbs will generally have a @ 20% take if over seeded (so it may take 10 years of overseeding to completely fill in. However, a drill and or a disc/culti-packer increases the “take” and a quicker stand will come in but it will take more management to do that.There are differences in how grass species respond to simple overseeding, Diploid(10-20lb/a) and Tetraploid Ryes are effective for over-seeding without using any other tools. I have used these tools in my own pasture and they worked great. But they are short term grasses and will last about 2-3 years while the orchardgrass and other perennials are long lived.
2. Clovers specifically improved ladino clovers respond about 70% to frost seeding and they will take hold with moderate seed to soil contact due to the size and density of the seeds. Do not over-seed into a Cimarron(or other long residual herbicides) treated area until after one year has elapsed. Refer to the Agronomy guide for specifics. If you choose legumes you will limit your weed control options so be sure the weeds are completely under control before using legumes in the stand.
3. One can over-seed with a walk behind spinner spreader, a drop spreader, a hand carried spinner or some even combine a fertilizer application and mix the seed in with the fertilizer. To do this one would need to rent a buggy and have a plant food (fertilizer) dealer mix it thoroughly. I also ran into a producer that mixes clover seed in with his cattle free choice mineral and when it is deposited in the manure the seed germinate.
ii. Sources of seed, P.L Rohrers(James Patches, Umbergers K and K), Seedway(Umbergers, Kirby Agri, Grow Mark, F.S), Kings Agri Seeds (Abner Stoltsfus), American seeds (Charlie Bomgardener). Chemgro also has seed as well as others that I failed to include.
Growers will have to make their own decisions but nature provides this time of year to assist growers in thickening thin stands of grass.http://lebanon.extension.psu.edu/Agriculture/FarmMgt/Horsepasturerecommendationsletterhead.doc