Plant Ryegrass Clover for Winter Pastures

Patricia M. Arledge, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  11/13/2015 9:55:09 PM

News Article for September 28, 2015:

The calendar says that fall is here but we are in south Louisiana. I can tell that the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are trying to subside.

Livestock producers have been taking advantage of the dry conditions to put up some of their last hay for the year and plowing for winter pastures.

Ryegrass pastures make excellent winter feed for livestock and the recommended time for planting in south Louisiana is September 20th - October 15th. You can plant on a prepared seed bed now and you can extend your planting time past October 15th if needed. The longer you wait to plant the slower the grass will grow due to colder temperatures and shorter days.

Good fertilization is the key to growing any cool season crop whether it is for livestock or wildlife food plots. I would take a soil sample immediately and even if you have to plant before you get the results back you can add more fertilizer after planting, but we have been getting soil results back within about a week.

I recommend 40 pounds of annual ryegrass seed per acre when planting. If you are going to mix different plant species cut your rate down to 25 pounds per acre.

Recommended varieties of ryegrass include Nelson, TAMTBO, Winterhawk, Jackson, Marshall, Grits, Diamond T, Earlyploid, Flying A, Fria, Jumbo, Prine, Maximus, Passerel Plus and Gulf. Attain and Big Bass are considered promising.

Wheat, oats and cereal rye are also options, especially for wildlife food plots. Wheat and cereal rye are planted at 90 pounds per acre alone. Oats are planted at 100 pounds per acre alone or 60 pounds in a mix.

Clovers are cool season legumes that can add a lot of protein and quality to your winter pastures. My favorites for our area have been red or white clovers. White clovers seem to last the longest and will persist into the summer, if it does not get too dry, plus they reseed very well. White clover varieties to try along with your other cool season grasses would be La S-1, Osceola, Regalgraze, Pinnacle, Durana or Neches. White clover is planted at a rate of 3 pounds of pure live seed per acre in a mix.

Recommended red clovers would include Kenland Red, Kenstar, Cherokee, Southern Belle and AU Red Ace. Red clovers are planted at 8 pounds of pure live seed per acre in a mix.

When planting cool season pastures apply all of the phosphorous and potassium that is recommended from your soil test at planting along with 50-60 pounds of nitrogen per acre. If you are going to be planting without a soil sample, a good medium fertility for planting ryegrass would be to use 300 pounds of 17-17-17 or 400 pounds of 13-13-13 per acre. This amount of nitrogen will last for about 50-60 days then you will need to top dress with another 60+ pounds of nitrogen such as 150 pounds of urea, or 200 pounds of either ammonium nitrate or urea/ammonium sulfate blend to get it growing again. This should get you through mid- February depending on your stocking rate and the weather.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.

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