How To Plant Ryegrass For Hay Production
Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
Ryegrass is a popular addition to grow with your hay. A strong and hardy grass, rye is resilient to weather and drought conditions and has a high nutritional value. It may seem like a bit of a challenge to sow ryegrass into your hay field. However, once it is in the ground, it requires very little maintenance to grow. If you plan to grow ryegrass alongside your hay, it is important to understand how to plant it and how to help it grow.
How to plant ryegrass
One of the few problems you may have to deal with is rust. However, this issue can be avoided with careful watering and monitoring as the growing season progresses. Typically, rust only appears in the late summer or early fall, but it can arise during dry weather when nitrogen levels are at their lowest.
Naturally, you will want to till the soil to prepare it for sowing ryegrass seed. If you attempt to spread seed on untilled soil, very little of it will take and you will end up using more seed than necessary. If you do not till the soil, most of the seed will blow away or be consumed by birds and other animals. For the best results, you will want to plant your ryegrass seeds at 1 to 1.5 inches deep. If you plant deeper, there is a possibility the seeds will not germinate and grow.
For every thousand feet of soil you will want to spread roughly 10 pounds of seed. This amount should yield about 1 million live plants per acre. Typically, you will want to aim for 20 to 24 healthy plants per square foot. However, you may want to adjust this number to take into account soil and water conditions. Some farmers opt to seed at a rate of 20 pounds per acre.
Helping your ryegrass grow
Fertilization of your ryegrass seeds is also essential. You should plan to add 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Nitrogen should be added between February and June or between October and December. You should be careful not to add too much nitrogen, because it could burn the soil.
Ryegrass should be planted in the fall or spring. Seeds sown in the fall will grow faster, but you will need to adjust your harvest schedule so that the grass can be cut before it flowers. This step is important because when ryegrass flowers it loses vital nutrients that your herd needs.
Ryegrass requires regular watering and should be watered no less than once a week. Water should be able to saturate the soil to a depth between 6 and 12 inches. The amount of water will need to be adjusted in conjunction with rainfall, snowfall, and irrigation. You will want to make sure to water deeply and less frequently during the spring, as this will encourage a faster rate of growth. Less water also helps the grass break out of its dormant stage.
Your ryegrass should be cut early in the growth cycle for best results. If you intend to graze your cattle on the grass, be sure that they do not overgraze it. Ryegrass should always be 3 to 4 inches long, otherwise you risk damaging the root structure. The damage can diminish the annual yield of your entire field. If you do intend to graze your herd on your ryegrass fields, it is a good idea to sow your first batch of seeds. Then, sow a second set two weeks later. This schedule creates a healthy environment for the grass to grow and ensures a continual supply of grass for your cattle to eat.
For more information about hay and other feed products, contact SB Hay & Feed today. Give us a call at (800) 652-3036 or Contact Us by email to learn more. You can also see the hay we have available to buy or sell your own!