View Full Version : Letting paddock reseed itself: When to cut?
Jul. 14, 2010, 11:43 AM
I searched for a previous thread on this, but can't find one (I thought I'd seen one recently).
I reseeded a small (100x60) paddock this spring "by the book," using bahia and covering it with 1/4" of store-bought, rich topsoil, and then watering it diligently. I got lucky and we never got a downpour until long after the seeds' roots had taken hold.
The pasture had decent, thick bahia before I reseeded it, so I only seeded the bare spots and trafficked areas. The new growth is now @ 3" high, but the OLD grass is about 3' (that's three FEET) high, with lots of seed pod-thingies. Meanwhile, the high traffic areas didn't do so well and I'm thinking of putting even more seed down on them (I have some seed left over).
So I'm wondering if I should mow the three-foot stuff and maybe spread IT on the high traffic areas that disappointed me, just reseed those areas, or maybe do a combination of those things.
Your opinions? Thanks!
Jul. 14, 2010, 12:18 PM
When I wanted the alfalfa here to reseed, i just left it grow, no mowing anything including the grass. All went to seed and now there is a whole lot more alfalfa (including some at the house, thanks to the cat that loves rolling in it) and the grass is also thicker
Jul. 14, 2010, 12:29 PM
Not all grasses will effectively reseed themselves, even if they develop seed heads. You'd have to ask the local farmer's co-op or county extension about what to do with the particular variety you have.
Jul. 14, 2010, 12:39 PM
The high traffic areas may not have done well because the soil is compacted. Try going over it with a drag, teeth down, then reseeding, or something else to loosen up the soil. Maybe a soil aerator - it has teeth, but rolls, so it doesn't make furrows, just holes....
About the mowing, I'd just mow the area on the highest setting, blowing the cuttings over the areas needing reseeding. The mower won't cut the new stuff as it is too short, but will knock down the tallest grass. Ber sure you don't cover the new grass too deeply, as that will kill it.
Jul. 14, 2010, 05:10 PM
But when are the seeds ready to be "planted" that way? Do they fall off the pod-things by themselves Should I wait until I can peel them off easily (like they are ready to fall off on their own)?
Jul. 14, 2010, 05:40 PM
Funny you should ask.
I just spent 2 months in Chicago and upon my return the grass was well, up to my a**. So, this is a perfect time to allow it to go to seed. Not knowing what the hell that meant or what I was doing, I decided to ask the farmers in the area. They said not to mow it until the seeds fall off the stalk in your hand. They said sometime after the 4th of July and then mow it but to mow it high.
So, i went out in the fields last week, grabbed the tall grass and the seeds fell off in my hand and only the stalks were left. So I decided to leave the fields alone for another week and I just mowed yesterday.
Jul. 14, 2010, 11:34 PM
I wonder if you are waiting for reseeding but you really need to mow to encourage the grass to spread. Most grass thickens due to mowing or controlled grazing. I would have mowed all along with the mower up at 6 inches and no extra weight on the tractor to not compress the soil you have prepared for your new seed. Now I would imagine you are in the position of needing to rake the mowed tall grass to keep it from smothering your seeded area. New grass does need a light cover but not a smother cover. I do not know anything about southern grasses so perhaps they do not spread. In Minnesota we plant alfalfa grass hay with a cover crop of oats to shade the new plants. By the time the oats can be harvested the young plants are tough enough to bear the sun. Luck PatO
Jul. 15, 2010, 12:09 AM
Now I am confused. I thought we were talking about allowing the grass to get high and going to seed (hence, no mowing) until the seed heads are ready to drop.
Yes mowing is good for grass later but not when your trying to get it to go to seed.
Or have I totally misunderstood you.
Jul. 15, 2010, 09:48 AM
Some varieties of grass are selected for seed heads that do NOT fall. This allows for easier hay-making and less waste of the nutritious seed heads. Again, you have to ask what variety you have. Some hybrids may not even put out seeds that are fertile. Ask the county extension office.
Jul. 15, 2010, 12:15 PM
Bahia will reseed itself but you must let it go at least 6 weeks before mowing and allow the seedheads to start turning brown and fall naturally. Sometimes I collect the seeds and scatter them, and hope for daily rain.
Jul. 15, 2010, 01:19 PM
I know nothing about bahia, but in general for cool weather grasses it's counterproductive to allow them to grow tall enough to seed. The more effecient growth mechanisms, assuming a reasonable root crop to start with, is to fertilize and water extensively, but cut at the 4-6" stage to encourage root growth. it's the root structure, not the tops, that dictate quality of pasturage and forage production rates.
It's critical to also remember that new growth, especially newly seeded growth, need significantly more food (e.g., fertilizer) than established stands.
Jul. 15, 2010, 01:42 PM
Thanks so much, especially for the last two replies.
I did fertile double what I usually would. The paddock was very thick (I'm happy when I can't see the ground through the grass) already, but there were bare patches and the high traffic areas. And, secretariat, I discovered what you indicate about the roots this year because I had seeded LAST year and was discouraged by the results, but THIS year, last year's grass has now come through blazingly (this is in my other pastures--I hadn't done this one last year). I am amazed by the root system of bahia.
Marla, thanks again. Those were exactly the kind of guidelines I was looking for. I'm thinking of mowing with a bagger and spreading the bagged stuff on the disappointing high traffic areas now (well, once the seeds start to drop, that is).
Jul. 15, 2010, 02:26 PM
We cleared pastures 3 years ago. Each year we seeded, fertilized, watered. I got an abundance of weeds, lots of bare spots, ughh.
Called a pro this year and said I wanted seeding AGAIN!
He said "no, I had plenty of grass. What I needed was spray for weeds and aerate".
It took everything I had to NOT put more seed down, but we followed his suggestion, killed off the weeds, disced (with the discs going straight, not churning) and finally we've got nice pastures. Still need to fertilize if we get a prediction of rain but we're finally on the right track.
If you haven't done so yet, have the paddock aerated to loosen the soil, it will really make a difference! By discing we divided the roots and doubled the grass we already had. I was harrowing, but not getting deep enough.
Jul. 15, 2010, 03:54 PM
Well, that makes a lot of sense (and boo-hoo: I've been only harrowing, too). But I haven't a clue where I'd get a disc harrow, alas.
Jul. 15, 2010, 04:32 PM
We called and asked around, found a local guy who's well known for "making" pastures, and horse savy (had an assistant who worked gates for him). He sprayed for weeds, came back about 3 weeks later and did the discing for us.
Yeah, it cost but not nearly what seeding 10 acres would have cost.
He was $85/hour, discing took 1 1/2 hours.
There was another guy who quoted $55/ but his minimum was $200 to come out.
I've been watching TSC and the local supply store for end of season sales. We spent $400 for the weed spraying and we can buy a tow-behind sprayer for $200 (tow with golf cart or riding mower).
I think the investment in a couple of pieces of equipement would be worth it.