Lespedeza, a drought-tolerant annual legume, will soon be evaluated as an alternative forage for frost seeding in Ohio.

Ohio State University Extension, along with a few livestock producers in Athens and Hocking counties, will seed demonstration plots in coming weeks to evaluate its performance.

“We’ll be looking at a lespedeza variety called Legend,” says Rory Lewandowski, Ohio State extension educator for the two counties. “Trials conducted with this variety in Arkansas and Missouri have shown that it produces better yields and has a higher rate of performance than other legumes used in frost seeding.

“Most legumes are cool-season species,” he adds. “Lespedeza is a warm-season legume, which means that it can fill the summer slump period that cool-season grasses experience.” Besides being drought-tolerant, lespedeza grows well in acid soils and soils low in fertility, says Lewandowski. Popular in southern Ohio, frost seeding reduces equipment costs and is ideal in areas with hilly terrain.

“Frost seeding is an effective and least-invasive method of getting seed out in the field without a lot of equipment in the equation,” he says. “In a way, it’s like a conservation prac-tice. A drawback is that you don’t have a large window of opportunity to get the seed down.”