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GO Turf Update

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From topping the NTEP charts to several soon-to-be-released products, the future of GO Turf is looking bright!

Starr Kentucky Bluegrass Logo

Our latest release, Starr Kentucky Bluegrass (GO-2628), is already turning heads. Starr topped the charts at the 2017 NTEP Kentucky bluegrass trials. Highlights of this solid performer include rapid establishment and year-round turf density. Starr’s winter color is superior to that of many elite type bluegrasses and has early spring green up characteristics, making this bluegrass one of the best in summer performance available today.

Not only did Starr stand out on the NTEPs, we have several experimental varieties that were looking great in the trials as well.

You’ll notice several up and coming GO products as well as the tried-and-true, Skye Kentucky Bluegass. This elite bluegrass continues to be a favorite of sod farms, homeowners, and turf professionals and is consistently a top performer at NTEP.

Skye Kentucky Bluegrass Logo

Availability for BirminghamFiji 2Milagro and other GO Turf favorites, is looking good. Field man Colin Scott and GO Turf guru, Duane Klundt, visited production fields in late summer and reported that everything was looking great!

Here’s a sneak peek at some other products on the horizon from GO Turf. Ask your GO sales rep for more information!

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GO-Richland 2018 Recap

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Looking back at the 2018 growing season at our Richland, Iowa Research Farm, it was quite a condensed season. We had the coldest April in 100 years. I learned that the normal flowering dates for our clovers were pushed back 4-6 days and forage production was cut drastically. FIXatioN Balansa Clover forage production was less than half of what it was in the Spring of 2017. Snow and below freezing temperatures into the last week of April really limited forage production and while the flowering dates were a bit later, they couldn’t make up for the 3 weeks of growth they missed out on.

Even with a very cold, extended winter and short Spring, we had quite a bit of Frosty Berseem Clover plants that survived the winter. As in the past, these plants are allowed to flower and seed is collected. The seed from the surviving plants is then planted back again in Iowa to further select for greater cold tolerance.

In the Fall of 2017 I planted a silage trial consisting of rows of WinterMax and HyOctane Triticale as well as Hood Barley. While WinterMax showed some great traits in the fall, such as upright growth and quick establishment, being bred in New Zealand, it lacked cold tolerance and did not survive the winter. Hood Barley also had a very low survival rate. HyOctane had nearly 100% winter survival. Between the grain rows, I planted Survivor Peas which had a very high survival rate also. The HyOctane & Survivor section produced a large forage harvest in May.

Another trial I planted in the fall of 2017 was a matrix of Albion Tetraploid Perennial Ryegrass with different Clovers (FIXatioN Balansa, Frosty Berseem, Kentucky Pride Crimson,AberLasting Hybrid and Domino White). I had 2 reps of each clover/Albion mix. The highest yielding plots were the FIXatioN Balansa/Albion plots. Frosty had quite a bit of winterkill which we expected. Kentucky Pride, AberLasting and Domino all had excellent survival rates and forage production. By the fall of 2018, AberLasting and Domino were looking very strong but not overwhelming the Albion. Check out my blog with details on this trial.

In May, when the soil dried out and warmed up, I planted a Spring Cover Crop Matrix. The species planted were White Mustard, Purple Top Turnips, German Millet, Daikon Radish, Buckwheat, Phacelia, Frosty Berseem, Survivor Winter Peas, Spring Oats and Sun Hemp.The purpose of this trial was to see what combination of two species was the best at suppressing weeds. I posted a detailed blog about the findings last summer.

An idea Jerry and I came up with last Spring was to simulate strip-tilling corn into plots of clovers planted in the Fall of 2017. The clovers were FIXatioN, Frosty, Kentucky Pride and AberLasting. The Clovers all did a good job of suppressing weeds and adding Nitrogen to the corn in May. What we learned is that a 6” strip is not nearly wide enough. When the clovers hit their spring growth spurt in early May, they proved to be too much competition for the corn in many places. What we saw in AberLasting was great promise as a perennial cover crop product. More on that in the seasons to come.

The Summer of 2018 marked the end of our Forage Grass Maturity Trial. In the fall of 2016, I planted plants from 8 different species and 72 different forage varieties. The data collected on plant maturities of these varieties will help develop a forage grass maturity index to help producers select varieties that meet their forage production needs.

In September of this year, I started planting plots and trials for Spring of 2019. I planted a plot of our experimental Persian Clover variety to see how it does after a cold, roller coaster Iowa Winter. I planted a plot of a new wildlife food plot consisting of FIXatioN Balansa Clover and Dwarf Essex Rape. Jerry fell in love with this mix because the seeds are Oregon State Beaver colors. Makes sense, right?

I planted another silage trial with HyOctane Triticale as the grain component and a section with Survivor Peas and another with FIXatioN Balansa Clover. Next Spring I will measure forage output and forage quality on both.

The coolest trial planted last Fall was my Bio-Strip trial. I planted 3 rows, 6” apart of Buckwheat, Driller Radish and Oats. They all put on a tremendous amount of growth and will winter-kill. Between reps of the 3 winterkill species I have an 18” wide strip of clover. I planted FIXatioN Balansa, Kentucky Pride Crimson and AberLasting Hybrid. Next April, the goal is to plant corn between the rows of Buckwheat and Radish. The soil in that winter-killed strip should be full of nutrients and very mellow. The residue should suppress Spring weeds as well. The annual clovers between the corn rows should help suppress weeds and give the corn a shot of Nitrogen over the summer. The AberLasting will provide ground cover between corn rows and likely provide some Nitrogen as well.

As I write this blog, it is 20° outside with a 4° wind chill. It will be a long winter of fighting to survive out in Richland. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out the other side!

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

GO Richland- 2018 Recap.PDF

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Cover Crop Matrix

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On April 16, 2018 I prepped an area for my Spring Cover Crop Matrix. This would be a block consisting of 6’ x 6’ plots of Mustard, Purple Top Turnips, German Millet, Daikon Radish, Buckwheat, Phacelia, Frosty Berseem CloverSurvivor Winter Peas, Spring Oats and Sun Hemp. Seeding rates were as follows:

  • Mustard 3#/A
  • Purple Top Turnips 2#/A
  • German Millet 10#/A
  • Daikon Radish 2#/A
  • Buckwheat 15#/A
  • Phacelia 2#/A
  • Frosty Berseem 8#/A
  • Survivor Peas 20#/A
  • Spring Oats 20#/A
  • Sun Hemp 8#/A

The area was plotted out and dragged with a harrow. Seed was broadcast, raked in then rolled to make a firm seed bed. The goal of this trial was to see which species established the quickest, provided the most ground coverage and ultimately provided the best spring weed suppression.

The Survivor Peas and Spring Oats were the first to emerge on April 25th. Soil temperatures remained in the upper 40’s to low 50’s until late in April which was the coldest April in 100 years in Iowa, so emergence of most species was slow.

The Radishes, Millet, Turnips and Frosty started growing around May 7th with Phacelia, Sun Hemp and Mustard the last to get going around May 12th. The timing of growth was very important for weed suppression. By May 20th, the ground came to life with a sprout of purslane unlike I have ever seen before in the 5 years we have been on the Richland, IA Research Farm. There was sufficient moisture available when the soil temperature warmed up to the point where purslane germinates so it came on with a vengeance.

The next flush of weeds to express their personality was the dreaded pigweed around the first week in June. By this time, it was abundantly clear which species and combination of species were best for spring weed control. Ranking them in order of their effectiveness, I would say Peas, Oats, Millet and Buckwheat were the clear winners. Our weather in June was very hot and wet so the radish and turnips were set back by a foliar disease otherwise they would rank as one of the better species for weed control as well.

Combinations of Peas and Oats, Peas and Millet, Peas and Buckwheat, Buckwheat and Millet, Buckwheat and Oats all did a great job of keeping the weeds at bay.

As we head into the dog days of summer, we will be planning our Fall trials which will include a silage trial for harvest next spring and a lot of cold tolerance trials. I will be harvesting seed from a block of Frosty Berseem clover that survived -19* last winter and continuing selection work to improve the cold tolerance of the next Frosty generation.

I hope everyone has a great summer!

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Cover Crop Matrix.PDF

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2019 Richland Research Farm Update

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The Winter of 2018-2019 will go down in history as one of the coldest and wettest winters ever in parts of the Midwest. While we didn’t get hit with all 24 of the named winter storms, we did have run-ins with Bruce, Carter, Gia, Harper, Indra, Jayden, Lucian, Maya I, Oren, Petra and Scott. On top of that came numerous Polar Vortexes and a bomb cyclone or two.

February in particular was remarkably brutal with heavy rain, sleet and ice on top of frozen ground. This combination of precipitation resulted in several inches of ice that stuck around well into March and suffocated vegetation. It was one of the worst winters for killing pastures and alfalfa fields many could remember. The Grassland Oregon Richland, IA Research Farm was under 3-4” of ice from early February until the second week of March. The outcome was not pretty.

Let’s take a look at what was planted last fall and how it came thru the winter.

Towards the end of August 2018, we were in the midst of a hot, dry spell and I was beginning to think it may never rain again so I decided I better get started on my fall projects early. On August 28th I planted my bio strip plot. I planted rows of Driller Radish, Oats and Buckwheat 6” apart with the next series of these species starting 36” later. These species would all winter-kill.

In a 12” strip between the winter-kill crops, I planted clovers. Four replications each of AberLasting Hybrid CloverFIXatioN Balansa Clover and Kentucky Pride Crimson Clover were utilized. The plan was to plant sweet corn between the Driller Radish and Buckwheat the following Spring. The residue from the winter-killed crops would “bio-till” the soil and the residue would help suppress weeds and hold in moisture. The clover would hopefully survive and help to suppress weeds then give the corn it’s nitrogen when they reached the end of their life cycle in May.

The winter-kill species did their job and it was like planting the corn into butter in April. AberLasting made it thru the winter unscathed. So much so that I realized I had planted it too heavy. Once warm weather arrived, the clover spread out and competed with the corn. This area of the farm was under ice for 5 weeks and it took a toll on the FIXatioN and Kentucky Pride. In early April it looked like most of it had been suffocated but 4 weeks later, I had all the FIXatioN I could handle. It’s amazing how many times we hear from a farmer that his FIXatioN didn’t make it thru the winter then a couple weeks later, they call back and say, “Holy Smokes, that clover is everywhere!” I got to see that happen first hand this year. The Sweet Corn in this plot doesn’t look too good but if you live in the Midwest, you wouldn’t expect it to. May and much of June were extremely wet and cool which is not good weather for growing corn.

On September 11, 2018 I planted large blocks of our annual legumes. FIXatioN Balansa Clover, Frosty Berseem Clover, Kentucky Pride Crimson Clover, a couple experimental Persian Clover lines, Survivor Winter Peas as well as common Hairy Vetch and Dixie (VNS) Crimson Clover. Our growing season in Iowa ended early and abruptly with cold weather arriving in early October but not before the legumes were well established and ready to take on the winter weather. These blocks of clovers were under a 3” sheet of ice for 5 weeks and it wreaked havoc on them. 90% of the Hairy Vetch was killed, 70% of the Kentucky Pride was killed, all of the Dixie (VNS) suffocated, Frosty was gone (not that unusual as it only survived down to about 15*F). FIXatioN fared the best of all but even it was only about a 50% stand. This was the first year in the 5 years I have been growing FIXatioN that it had any noticeable winter-kill.

Frost Seeding trials were on deck for February 2019 but without my hockey skates, I wasn’t going to get anything planted. On March 18th, the ground was finally clear of ice and I frost seeded Red Clover and Frosty Berseem Clover. Frosty lived up to its name and looked phenomenal.

By June 27 it was 18” tall and had suppressed the weeds that wanted to consume the farm as usual. Alfalfa fields that were frost seeded with Frosty Berseem last spring definitely paid dividends to farmers who had winter-kill difficulties in their fields.

We are now in the dog days of summer with temperatures in the mid 90’s, dew points in the 70’s and summer annual weeds stretching their legs. We have perfect conditions for foliar diseases so I am paying close attention to our space plant nursery of new turf and forage candidates to see which ones will do best in these trying conditions.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

2019 Richland Research Update.PDF

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Oregon Vineyard Cover Cropping

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As the 2017 harvest year comes to a close, I thought I would share with you some of the data that I’ve gathered on a cover crop trial that we’ve been conducting in a vineyard south of Silverton. This replicated trial has been very informative. 

We originally started our vineyard cover crop experiments 3 years ago. It began by seeding all sorts of monocultures and polycultures to get an idea what might work as a cover crop in vineyards for Oregon. We quickly pared down the list and eliminated items that might interfere with vine growth, lacked winter hardiness, and established poorly. Last year we narrowed the experiment to a few mixtures and this year we refined them further. The components were chosen for the diversity that they brought both above and below ground.

Final mixes were as follows:

Observations, Data, and Takeaways:

When I visited the vineyard on March 23 of this year one thing immediately stood out to me. In the mixes that contained cereal rye, the rye was inhibiting the growth of the other items in the mix.

In the above photo, the clover is well developed and of good size. In amongst the rye, the clover and other plants are severely stunted. This may be due to an allelopathic effect from the cereal rye. It was observed in every rep with cereal rye. We will continue to monitor this in the future. We see benefits to developing cereal rye varieties that exhibit greater allelopathy as well as lines exhibiting less allelopathy. In the mixtures utilizing triticale instead of cereal rye, we noticed no inhibition of growth in the other components.

On April 25, we visited the farm again to make observations. The clovers had really started to grow and the mixtures looked good. There was still a noticeable difference in the growth of the components in the cereal rye. Below is a photo of the Vineyard Compaction + N Mix, I think it looks pretty good at this stage so I would recommend termination or mowing. As you can see from the photo below the weed suppression was extremely good.

At this point I asked the vineyard owner to notify me when he was ready to terminate so that we could take biomass samples. On May 9th I got the call, there was a break in the weather and they were going to mow. Unfortunately, the rows planted to mixtures including the FIXatioN Balansa Clover had shown a large amount of growth. So much that they had encroached on our control rows. We sampled the mixes and sent them off to Dairy One for tissue analysis. The table below is the average of the samples from across all the replications.

One week after I took the biomass samples, I returned to pull soil samples. When soil sampling I noticed a marked difference between the treatments in ease of getting the soil probe into the ground. In every instance and rep where FIXatioN Balansa clover was present it was notably easier to pull soil samples. At this point I cursed myself for not bringing my penetrometer to actually measure them. The control rows were so compacted that I thought that I might break or bend the soil probe. The soil samples were sent off to Wood’s End Laboratories in Maine for a standard soil test and Solvita testing.

In every instance and rep where FIXatioN Balansa clover was present it was notably easier to pull soil samples.

I expected the FIXatioN Balansa mixes to have quick N release due to the C:N ratio of the FIXatioN being about 10:1. It is our experience that of the lbs. of Nitrogen/A. listed above – roughly a third will be available within the first 10 weeks following termination. Factors that can affect actual nutrient release include C:N ratio of components, weather, and soil biology.

Approximately 45 days later I returned to pull a second round of soil samples, and this time I remembered to bring the penetrometer. The first time wasn’t a fluke, the FIXatioN Balansa Clover was working some magic on the soils. It was now that I fully understood Mike Coon’s, part owner of the farm that grows our seed crop, statementthat “FIXatioN mellows out the soil better than anything I’ve seen”. The penetrometer went through the ground like a hot knife through butter, pretty amazing!

When we received the samples back from Wood’s End we compared the differences in the soil samples.

As you can see from the results above, the soil microbial activity is far better in all cover crop treatments. What was surprising was that even the control sample showed an increase in nitrogen. The fact that some of the clover vines from the FIXatioN Balansa Clover had spread from adjacent rows to the control rows prior to termination were potentially the source for improvement. If the vineyard owner allows us to repeat this experiment, we will alter the planting so that there are three adjacent control rows with no cover crop.

Both annual cover crop mixes produced an increase in nitrogen levels and the value of the NPK/Acre increased substantially.

The cover reduced both the phosphorous and potassium levels across all treatments, with the Eco Perennial Mix showing the greatest reduction. The other takeaway from this study – I should have run soil tests on all treatments prior to sowing. Again, if the vineyard owner allows the trial to continue, we will make sure to do this.

Both annual cover crop mixes produced an increase in nitrogen levels and the value of the NPK/Acre increased substantially. The perennial mix increased the organic matter in the soil while all other treatments saw a slight decrease.

On August 24th I visited the vineyard again with the management company. There was still a layer of residue protecting the soil. The vineyard manager dug down with his pocket knife in one of the annual cover crop treatment rows and we found that there was still some moisture in the top of the soil. This site had not received any rainfall in the previous 45 days.

Conclusions

It was exciting to see the changes in the soil structure from the cover crop treatments. We can conclude that cover crops can greatly improve the soil health in a vineyard, even in just one year’s time. One thing that we noticed, but did not measure, was a great increase in beneficial insects in this vineyard. Given the time and resources, this would be another thing to study in the future. If you have questions about this trial, please contact us. We will make the more successful mixtures from this trial commercially available in the Fall of 2017. Give us a call if you’d like to explore utilizing polyculture cover crops in your vineyard.

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Oregon Vineyard Cover Cropping.PDF

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Reducing the Cost of Overseeding Warm-Season Pastures

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Lately the high price of annual ryegrass has got farmers throughout the South thinking about their options. What do you do when you need forage for livestock but the prices continue to escalate for seed? The counter-intuitive answer is that you spend more for seed and improve the composition of your forage. 

Over the last five years the price of annual ryegrass has increased by approximately 25%. This is due to a reduction in supply of annual ryegrass seed grown. This is the result of higher priced farm land in Oregon necessitating the shift to better revenue producing crops.

However, despite these price increases, when looking at price per acre of seed, straight annual ryegrass still looks like the cheapest option, at a cost of $23.40/A. for seed.

Using small grain seed that you grew or that was grown by a neighbor is a tempting option with today’s low grain prices. Before going down this path it is important to keep in mind that whatever weed issues were in the grain field could be spread over your other fields. It doesn’t take much weed seed to create a big problem. No matter the source of your planting seed, I recommend that you ask for a seed analysis or pull your own sample and send to a seed laboratory prior to planting. This little expense could save you a lot of headaches in the future.

At this point, you might be thinking what to do to mitigate the cost. You could cut out or reduce the amount of fertilizer applied, but a pasture weakened by lack of fertility is only going to increase weed pressure and decrease both the quantity and quality of the forage.

One simple alternative is to add annual clovers to your pasture mix. Research conducted at universities in the South suggests that by adding annual clover you can reduce nitrogen inputs by 50-66% on grazed pastures. Another added benefit is that when grazing season is over, the dying clover residue can supply as much as 80 pounds of Nitrogen/A. That equates to more than $35/Acre in additional cost savings to the following crop or pasture.

As seen in the table above, no matter your grass or grain choice adding clover to your pasture will save you money.

One thing to contemplate when weighing the idea of planting small grains versus ryegrass is that the small grains will shift your grazing season forward. If planting small grains, you will need to be prepared to move livestock into the pasture earlier than you would ryegrass. It is important to graze the small grains and ryegrass early or they will smother out the clovers. Small grains will also likely die out before the clover; ryegrass matches up better with clovers. As the small grains die out, the risk of bloat will increase so make sure that you take preventative measures.

Of the clovers, Frosty Berseem clover will outlive both the ryegrass and small grains by up to four weeks. The nice thing about Berseem clover is that it is recognized as the only non-bloating clover. In two years of animal feeding trials at Mississippi State University, we saw no sign of bloat on cattle grazing straight Frosty Berseem clover. With a forage quality similar to that of alfalfa, Frosty Berseem can extend your grazing season beyond that of other clovers. Frosty also makes great hay as there is no leaf drop associated with Berseem clover, unlike that of alfalfa.

No matter which clover species you include in your pasture, you will see improved animal performance due to the increase in crude protein. Improved weight gains, lower cost per acre, and residual nitrogen are all compelling reasons to include clover in your annual pasture. Get a better bang for your buck and include annual clovers this planting season, your wallet will thank you, your livestock will thank you, and the pollinators will thank you!

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Reducing the Cost of Overseeding.PDF

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There’s a lot of Potential in Every Inch of FIXatioN’s Growth

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One of the best parts of Spring in the Midwest is checking out which varieties of grasses and clovers made it thru the long winter months. What’s even better is watching our FIXatioN Balansa Clover wake up and stretch its legs as the days get longer and warmer. 

This year, I put a measuring post in one of our FIXatioN plots at the Richland, Iowa Research Farm to document how tall the plants get and when this happens. The post went in the ground on March 20th just as color was starting to return to the tiny plants.

Temperatures are still quite cool in March and vertical growth had not yet begun.

I took another picture on April 8th and the FIXatioN plants had fully greened up and were about ready to start growing.

By the middle of April, the plants had gone from about an inch tall to 6” tall. This is about the same time that farmers in the Midwest started planting a few early fields of corn. Using a 1 square foot frame, I harvested the green organic matter. I found that there was 16,304 lbs/Acre of organic matter from the 6” tall plants. Based on a sample I sent to Dairy One for analysis, I determined there were 74 lbs of Nitrogen potential per acre contributed by the FIXatioN.

On April 24th I harvested two different parts of the plot. One that was 8” tall and another that was 10” tall. The 8” tall plants yielded 22,826 lbs. of forage and 105 lbs of N/Acre. The 10” tall plants yielded 32,804 lbs. of forage and 152 lbs of N/Acre. If I were a corn farmer, and I held off planting corn for about a week I would have doubled the amount of free organic Nitrogen contributed.

The last 2 weeks of April were warm and sunny with plenty of rain in between. On May 3rd I harvested an area that was 12” tall and another that was a whopping 20” tall. The 12” tall plants contributed 231 lbs of N/Acre and the 20” tall plants chipped in a staggering 399 lbs of N/Acre.

By May 9th, FIXation was just starting to flower so this would be my last cutting before terminating the clover. The plants were just short of 30” tall now and yielded a staggering 118,000 lbs of green forage per acre. The Nitrogen contribution from all that forage was 343 lbs./Acre.By this time, 90% of the corn around the Richland Research Farm had been planted. Waiting 16 days to plant makes a huge difference in the amount of N potential that FIXatioN can contribute to the corn plants. Successfully managing your cover crop has a big impact on the health of the corn crop and its profitability. Terminating the FIXatioN in early May when it just begins to flower is the best way to get the most out of your cover crop investment. With a C:N ratio of 10:1, FIXatioN will rapidly release the Nitrogen it contains to the soil and following cash crop. Roughly 1/3 of the Nitrogen contribution figures above are immediately available to the next crop. This is called PAN (plant available Nitrogen). The lower the C:N ratio of the legume, the more rapidly it decomposes and releases its Nitrogen. Higher C:N ratio covers like cereal rye (20:1) may actually tie up nitrogen which is required to decompose the organic matter.So the moral of this story is; don’t be in such a rush to get your corn acres planted following a legume cover crop like FIXatioN. Time is money!

Below is a chart showing the data that was collected from Brent’s research.

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Potential in Fixation.PDF

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Inter-seeding cover crops requires long range weather forecasting

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Lately you may have been hearing a lot about inter-seeding as a means to get cover crops started early or where otherwise, due to late corn harvest, they might not get planted at all.

While inter-seeding into corn has been fairly successful, I have yet to hear of much success when seeding into soybeans. As with anything there are risks and it seems that drought is one of the biggest when it comes to successfully establishing an inter-seeded crop into corn.

When we first heard of inter-seeding we thought we would try it on our SE Iowa research farm. The first year it worked well. I was nervous our annual clovers or annual ryegrass would quickly go to seed. However, it appears the shade from corn is enough to defeat the photoperiod maturity aspect of these species. The only spots where we saw any flowering was along the edge of the field, something that is easily adjusted for. Our second year we planted later than I would have liked and it got too dry before we could get much size on the cover crops. As a result, most did not make it and we didn’t have much of a stand when the corn crop started to dry down. The one variety that did perform the best was our Frosty Berseem clover, which has better drought tolerance than the other species.

Later we tried to duplicate our trial on a nearby farm but pre-emergent herbicide residual kept anything from establishing. If you are going to try inter-seeding you will want to limit your use of pre-emergent herbicide or test germinate some quick germinating seed in an area where you can watch and water it regularly. If it doesn’t live where you baby it, don’t bother seeding across the rest of the field.

We felt that we had learned enough that when we were approached by Dr. Ryan Haden of Ohio State to help fund his inter-seeded cover crop trial we were happy to do so. Below is the data from his first year of the trial.

I feel that inter-seeding will work, but you need to pay attention to the long-range forecast. Since the Ohio State data doesn’t show a lot of biomass, I doubt that the increase in yield in 2015, the establishment year, had much to do with biological Nitrogen fixed by the clovers. I believe what we are seeing in this trial must do more with the soil conditioning properties of the cover crops and the biological responses in the soil. The 2016 data would be in response to the nitrogen produced by the clover in addition to the biological soil improvement. There is a lot left to learn when it comes to inter-seeding and we will be sharing more data as it comes along.

For a printable, PDF version of this blog, click below.

Inter-seeding Cover Crops.PDF

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The Search for a Winter-Hardy and Economical Forage Solution

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No one has forgotten last year’s polar vortex, least of all the farmers and ranchers who weathered it. We couldn’t have predicted the brutally low temperatures that much of the US experienced this past winter, but it was in anticipation of conditions like these that we tried to breed a forage variety that would be hardy and resilient enough to survive them. If one believes the weather predictions for the coming winter, it seems we succeeded just in time.  Our FIXatioN Balansa clover has a rosette growth habit that hugs the ground helping it to withstand below-freezing temperatures. Even after a harsh winter, Balansa clover will aggressively produce forage in the spring, providing a plentiful source of high crude protein for deer (which means bigger racks!) and waterfowl. 

In preparation for the bone-chilling season ahead, we recommend fall seeding FIXatioN by drilling into established pastures.  Under proper management it can be broadcast as well.  Its small seed size and hardiness enables it to be successfully sown among existing forage. To increase successful establishment we recommend you graze prior to sowing as it opens the canopy and allows sunlight to reach the young plants.

The other benefit of FIXatioN’s s small seed size is: while it costs more per pound than ryegrass, the cost per acre is less, which most agree, is the true value farmers and ranchers measure. FIXatioN can be seeded at 5 to 8 lbs. per acre, which is significantly less than other forage seed. Plus, well established fields of the Balansa clover are capable of withstanding multiple cuttings/grazings and if properly managed, can reseed for up to three years.

Helping farmers and ranchers weather cold winters and reduce seed costs are two more examples of important advances in seed breeding today. As we continue to develop others, we’d be interested in learning about your growing concerns. Feel free to leave a comment, or drop us a line at info@grasslandoregon.com

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FIXatioN Balansa Clover: The Cover Crop and Forage that’s Exceeding Expectations

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In extensive trials, this cool-season, nitrogen-fixing annual legume has raised eyebrows, surviving brutally cold winters, tolerating a variety of soil conditions, and performing well in mixes. Trials and initial feedback on FIXatioN balansa clover (Trifolium michelianum) have us excited about its potential to be a game changer—both for cover crops and forage.

While FIXatioN proved itself in the wet and cold of the Northwest, we weren’t sure how it would handle drier conditions. We’re strong believers in not introducing a product prematurely, so we put it to the test—in Mississippi, Florida, New York, Tennessee, California, and throughout the Midwest, learning an awful lot in the process.

One of the many things we discovered was that FIXatioN is suitable for varied growing conditions. Balansa does very well in areas where other legumes just wouldn’t grow. It handles a varied pH level (4.5 − 8.0), standing water, a variety of temperatures, as well as limited rainfall conditions and moderate salinity. We’ve seen balansa outperform crimson clover in any application crimson will be grown in, and it will grow in a lot of areas that crimson can’t be grown in.

Seed grower Mike Coon of Oak Park Farm, Shedd, Oregon, says of their first season with FIXatioN, “After a fall planting, it came out of the ground, grew quickly, and handled a lot of off-and-on standing water in a heavy clay soil.”