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Benefits Of ‘Overseeding’ Pastures

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By Mario Villarino, Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Hopkins County, [email protected]

“Overseeding” is the term generally used to refer to broadcast-seeding winter annual forage crops on summer pastures, with or without disking or other tillage. “Sod-seeding” usually refers to planting annual crops into a pasture using a drill. Either or both of these operations may be used to establish winter annuals in warm-season pastures. For convenience, in this publication the term “overseeding” will be used to refer to both of these planting methods.

Over-seeding extends the length of time during which a warm-season pasture can provide forage for grazing animals. Instead of six to eight months of forage production, over-seeding can result in 8 to 10 months of productivity, thus helping reduce the need for expensive stored feed. In addition, pastures over-seeded with winter annuals have less hoof damage by grazing animals compared to winter annuals planted on a prepared seedbed. This can be particularly important during prolonged wet periods or on soils that tend to stay wet during the cooler months of the year.

Winter annual forages can also improve animal nutrition. Ryegrass and other winter annuals produce high quality forage; much higher than produced by warm-season perennial grasses. The timing of this nutritional advantage is also important. Cows have their highest nutritional requirements from two months prior to calving until they are re-bred. In many areas, most cows calve in late winter or early spring and are bred again within three months after calving. The peak production of ryegrass forage is also in early- to mid-spring, which is the time it can greatly affect calf weight, calf health and conception rates of cows.

For more information on this or any other agricultural topic, please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or emailĀ [email protected].

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Author: Faith Huffman

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