“Last fall wasn’t too good of a seeding season; it was extremely dry. This fall looks like we’ll have a pretty good fall seeding season with cool temperatures and, for the most part, decent soil moisture,” said Gary Bates, on the University of Tennessee’s Beef and Forage Center’s Facebook Live session last week.

Bates, who is a forage specialist with UT-Extension and director of the UT Beef and Forage Center, outlined four important keys to successfully establishing pastures in the fall. These include:

1) Choose a good variety: Bates recommends checking university grass variety performance trials. These offer same location comparisons as well as multi-location results. The University of Tennessee and University of Kentucky both provide grass performance data.

2) Hit the optimum seeding window: For the mid-South, Bates recommends seeding anytime from the end of August to mid-October.

3) Plant into a good seedbed: If starting a brand new stand, work the ground up conventionally to kill any potential plant competition or spray the field with glyphosate.

4) Watch your seeding rate and depth: For most cool-season grasses such as orchardgrass or tall fescue, the recommended seeding depth is no more than 1/4 inch. Bates warns that no-till drills are heavy and can easily place seeds too deep if not properly adjusted, or miss the mark on desired seeding rate if not calibrated. Bates suggests watching UT’s video on grain drill calibration.

Though weather conditions during and following seeding always play a large role in successful forage establishment, adhering to these four basic guidelines will more often than not result in a successful stand. They also remain the primary reasons why establishment failures occur.

To watch Bates’ Facebook video in its entirety, click here.