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frost seeding alfalfa and switchgrass
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Vino&Venison 02-Jan-19
Habitat 02-Jan-19
brettpsu 02-Jan-19
Vino&Venison 02-Jan-19
Iowa_Archer 02-Jan-19
LBshooter 02-Jan-19
t-roy 02-Jan-19
Norseman 02-Jan-19
chasin wtails 02-Jan-19
Elkhorn 02-Jan-19
Vino&Venison 04-Jan-19
t-roy 04-Jan-19
Grubby 04-Jan-19
drycreek 04-Jan-19
RIT 04-Jan-19
MilkweedManiac 07-Feb-19
BullBuster 07-Feb-19
Tdvorak 07-Feb-19
RIT 08-Feb-19
Killbuck 18-Feb-19
From: Vino&Venison
02-Jan-19

Vino&Venison's DeerBuilder embedded Photo
Vino&Venison's DeerBuilder embedded Photo

Looking for experienced people that have frost seeded either alfalfa or switchgrass. Our farmer is giving up a hidden 3 acre sliver (picture attached) on our NW WI property because of how time consuming it is with getting equipment turned around. I would like to create this kill plot design in the picture.

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?

02-Jan-19
I Frost seed switch grass. Be patient!

I am not sure you can with alfalfa and chicory. Clover works great. GL.

From: Habitat
02-Jan-19
Frost seeding switch right before a snow is good,frost seeding alfalfa will probably work.I like to plant mine in late sept early oct in Kansas.In Wisc. alfalfa will probably go dormant earlier than here and not be there much for hunting season unless you find some colder varieties.There may be better options.Lots of guys from up that way on deerhunterforum.com and allthingshabitat.com

From: brettpsu
02-Jan-19
How early do you frost seed the switch grass? Do you need to worry about seed rot?

From: Vino&Venison
02-Jan-19
I’m not sure on timing of frost seeding switchgrass. I’m also concerned with rodents eating a lot of the seed. My surface isn’t perfectly level either and I’m concerned the seed will wash during snow melt to the lowest area.

It’s expensive seed to mess around with.

From: Iowa_Archer
02-Jan-19
Clover and switchgrass are two common seeds that can be successfully frost seeded. Both are small, hard outer shell seeds and for that reason, and a couple of others, they are suited to frost seeding. I would be suspect that alfalfa could be successfully frost seeded on a larger scale. I agree, don't turn the soil over unless you want to have a weed fight there, but if you could drill the alfalfa you would be better off.

From: LBshooter
02-Jan-19
have so e fresh cut area that's down to dirt and wondering if there is a seed that can be thrown out and it will grow in its own without being maintained.

From: t-roy
02-Jan-19
I would HIGHLY recommend that you go to Iowawhitetail.com forums and go to the “Dbltree’s corner” section, and search switchgrass. There is a TON of information regarding planting switch. That guy was a wealth of information, but, unfortunately, he has passed away.

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.

From: Norseman
02-Jan-19
Good stuff guys! Not to hi-Jack the thread, but while on the same subject, I would like to frost seed some more clover and switch grass into a current 3 acre alfalfa hay stand (alfalfa, clover, Timothy). The alfalfa is nearing its end. While the low and north facing slopes are still ok the hill tops ans south facing are pretty lean with alfalfa and clover.

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?

02-Jan-19
Vino,

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.

From: Elkhorn
02-Jan-19
I think slot of people frost seed cover to thicken old fields ...alfalfa can not be used for that method. In a fresh field it prob would work but I’ve never tried it.

From: Vino&Venison
04-Jan-19
T-roy- thank you for that advice. I have read Dbltree habitat stuff before but never that switchgrass post that was a ton of information.

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.

From: t-roy
04-Jan-19
Good deal, Vino! Good luck on your project and look forward to the updates and pics!

From: Grubby
04-Jan-19
I guess I don’t see the benefit of frost seeding it in your situation, it should be ready to drill in with little to no tillage in the spring. I’d recommend you rent beg or borrow the equipment and drill it in.

From: drycreek
04-Jan-19
I read a blog by Don Higgins last night that had some great info on frost seeding switch grass. You can probably google it.

From: RIT
04-Jan-19

RIT's embedded Photo
RIT's embedded Photo
RIT's embedded Photo
RIT's embedded Photo
You can seed it now. I seeded this field in November last year and have some switch pockets that are 6’ tall the first year. I have seeded both Cave-in-Rock and Kanlow. I prefer the Kanlow it’s taller and seemed to grow faster.

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.

07-Feb-19
Great info, RIT.

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???

From: BullBuster
07-Feb-19
I can't find anywhere that tells the pH tolerance of switchgrass or what kind of shade tolerance and drought tolerance it has. Thanks

From: Tdvorak
07-Feb-19
You can simply broadcast your seed and it will take off in the early spring. The problem is that the seed may lay dormant for several years before getting the soil to seed contact necessary for germination. It is much QUICKER to till the soil and get the seed in it. That may not be an option. It will take a lot of mowing to get a solid stand unless you get a bit of luck outta the gate. Alfalfa will peter out on you over time. It really depends on how fast you want results.

From: RIT
08-Feb-19
Disagree with tilling the soil. All you are accomplishing is breaking down the soil structure and bringing weed seed to the surface.

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.

From: Killbuck
18-Feb-19
I can't understand the fascination with frost seeding! Especially with alfalfa! Why dump very expensive seed with a notoriously poor germination rate when you could wait a month and get proper performance? Don't fight Mother Nature!

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