Spring Hydroseeding of Switchgrass on Winter Wheat

Project Overview

FNE99-238
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1999: $1,830.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1999
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $1,840.00
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops, grass (misc. perennial), hay

Practices

  • Animal Production: pasture renovation, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: intercropping, stubble mulching
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal summary:

    On my farm and many other rolling Central Pennsylvania farms, traditional blue grass, orchard grass and fescue pastures and hayfields produce almost no growth in July and August especially in years with hot, dry weather. I have learned from reading various bulletins that the warm-season grasses such as swtichgrass, big bluestem and indian grass make excellent growth in the normally dry mid-summer period and provide excellent pasture and even hay production. Unfortunately, these grasses are difficult to establish, at least in my experience and that of other neighboring farmers. I have planted swtichgrass in the spring using direct seeding but germination has been poor and the weeds have crowded out many seedlings. I have read that usually switchgrass seed contains hard dormant seeds that require cold, wet weather to germinate. I have several acres of swtichgrass that only now, after three years of seeding, is the stand dense enough for pasture use. I can’t afford to have my pastures and hay fields out of production for two years. I would like to try winter and early spring seeding of switchgrass with winter wheat. If this works, it will give me income (a wheat crop to be sold) and eliminate the two-year waiting period for a stand dense enough for summer pasture or weed-free late summer hay. A better more rapid way to establish switchgrass, which is an excellent hay and pasture crop, especially on rolling, hilly or drought-y fields, will help many Northeast livestock farms.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.