This has been in Row crops for 4 years and was beans this year. The soil is weed free and exposed and I’m reading a lot about frost seeding for switchgrass and for alfalfa.
Switchgrass seems to have favorable results and because it is slow to germinate i believe I can spray Glyphosate in early spring while it’s cool to kill any early competition. Any done this with success have any advice?
Alfalfa is very seems to have very mixed opinions. I feel like not disturbing the soil with tillage is an advantage because you aren’t activating the weed seeds. I could spray with a poast herbicide I think. Has anyone done this with alfalfa with any success or failure? Also I would like to add a little chicory but alfalfa doesn’t like competition and can get taken over. Any thoughts there?
I am not sure you can with alfalfa and chicory. Clover works great. GL.
It’s expensive seed to mess around with.
You stated that the area has been row cropped and was in beans last. From what I have been reading about prepping for seeding switch, you have the ideal situation for being able to frost seed your switch late this winter vs doing it into grass sod. You have a clean seed bed, so seed to soil contact should be ideal, plus competition from other grasses/weeds should be lower next summer (with proper maintenance). The seed won’t rot if frost seeded, in fact, the seed needs to go through several freeze/thaw cycles (scarification) to be able to sprout in the spring. Switch is very slow to green up, so, like habitat for wildlife stated, be patient. As far as your concerns about the seed washing away, you will lose or relocate some seed but most of the seed should stay in place. Do you have much snow? I wouldn’t spread any seed on hard crusted snow, but if the snow is soft, fluffy, or if you have no snow at all, I would seed it it in the next month or two, so the seed can go through the scarification process and the freeze/thaw cycles can pull the seed down into the soil a bit. The biggest concern would be if you get a lot of snowmelt quickly and the ground is sloped, you could lose some seed.
From what I’ve read on alfalfa, it does not frost seed nearly as successfully as clover. One thing I’ve read is, that the seedlings can be susceptible to late frosts damaging or killing the young plants. You also can’t overseed it into existing alfalfa due to the allopathic properties of the existing alfalfa. Most recommend seeding alfalfa in the late summer with a nurse crop of oats. The plants will have more time to establish their root systems and will be winter hardy by the time they go dormant.
I was thinking of frost seeding in clover and switch grass on the south facing slope and it’s hill top. My goal would be to create cover/bedding area with the addition of some shrubs and red willow.
Can I frost seed as is? would I need to lightly disc the areas where I want to cast switch grass? Or would you recommend plowing it all up to take out the alfalfa, and starting new?
You may want to think about planting your alfalfa on the outside perimeter of the plot then plant your switchgrass on the interior. That will give you a firebreak when you decide to burn your switchgrass.
I spoke with an alfalfa seed dealer and he told me frost seeding alfalfa should work with the prepared seed bed (old bean field). I will upload some photos this spring and show the results of the frost seeding.
You’re going to want to use more than glyphosate though. Your farmer should have access to Atrizine. I’d hit it with Atrizine and Simizine as early as conditions will permit. Then use glyphosate on anything green in early May before the switch germinates. In the second year if you have foxtail issues a shot of Quinclorac will solve your foxtail problem.
Do you think Switchgrass could be frost seeded in less than ideal grass sod (very short, but not as much bare dirt as in your picture)?
I would think that the seed would find its way into the soil through the heaving, and that a pre-emergent follow up by a post-emergent would kill most of the dormant grass???
The preferred method of planting switch is frostseeding by broadcast or drilling.
Milk you may be successful but to be honest prepping the area the fall before would be more ideal. The most critical step in establishing switch is weed control the first few years . Switch grows down before it grows up and puts on a huge chunck of growth after July 1st. That gives cool season weeds and grasses a big jump on the switch seedlings. Mowing weeds also takes more time to establish and you run the risk of damaging young seedlings.