If you want to plant pasture grass seed this fall, don't wait for rain, says Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri (MU) Extension forage specialist.

“When it’s time to plant, drill the seed. The seeds will wait; when you get rain, you’ll have grass.” Waiting for rain will delay planting and lower changes of strong grass stands before winter, he says.

Kallenbach plants thousands of acres of grass paddocks at MU research centers each year and has had “only a couple of minor failures.”

He suggests planting by mid-September and advocates no-till drilling. Drilled seed goes into ground where all old growth and weeds were killed, and that reduces competition for water and nutrients. Dead residue slows soil erosion and speeds rain intake, too.

Before planting, however, calibrate drills to the right planting depth. Start planting, but stop and double check that seeds are planted shallow enough, he advises.

Two years ago, in a dry fall, Kallenbach planted during the first week of September into a bone-dry field. When it didn’t rain the entire month, he started to worry. Then, in October, rain arrived. “The grass came up; we had a fine stand.”

Kallenbach will speak at his plots during a Sept. 25 field day at the MU Forage Systems Research Center in Linneus. Tours start at 9 a.m. and end by noon. For details, go to the research center’s website or call 660-895-5121.

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