Assess Alfalfa, Winter Cereal and Grass Stands for Reseeding Decisions

The snow has now receded and soils are beginning to warm enough to green up most hay fields and pastures, and it’s time to make decisions about spring forage seedings. Some fields may have suffered extensive stand losses and will subsequently require reseeding or replacement. Losses are often variable and but are most extensive on flatter, compacted, more poorly drained sections of fields where snowmelt and rain may have ponded and frozen for an extended length of time. Open, windswept areas of fields can also be at risk if an insulating layer of snow was thin or non-existent while temperatures were below 15 degrees, leaving plants exposed to harsh cold and wind. While sod grasses, red and white clovers and birdsfoot trefoil can reseed themselves or fill in damaged, thin or bare areas, alfalfa and bunch grasses will not. In the latter case, bare areas are likely to fill in with low-yielding winter and summer annual weeds. It is important to evaluate stands early this spring to explore your options for managing thin, patchy hay fields, pastures and small grain fields. Be watchful of alfalfa, grass and small grain fields, or portions of fields, which appear to be slow to ‘green up’ over the next couple of weeks. Most grasses are now greening and beginning to grow a bit on warm sunny days. When spring growth has reached 3-4” high, scout these fields for injury, frost heaving, root damage and death. The first step in evaluating your own fields is to count the stand den

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