With weather and soil conditions far from perfect for reseeding this spring, Rod Bonshor, general manager for Oliver Seeds, is urging farmers to be patient and wait a couple of weeks before heading into the fields with a drill.
“This is the tardiest spring that I can remember,” says Mr. Bonshor. “Looking at our trials site in Gloucestershire this week, the only species that are showing any signs of growth are the festuloliums and some of the Italian ryegrasses. Everything else is still in its winter state.
“Soil temperatures, even in the south west are still in single figures and farmers will do well to delay any reseeding. The growth check on fields sown now will never make up the performance of seeds drilled in better conditions, in a few weeks time.”
Mr Bonshor suggests farmers use this unexpected quiet time to walk the fields and assess the state of the sward and any weed infestations, as weeds often start growing at lower temperatures than the grass.
“What might be best is to take a first cut of silage which will help refill silage stocks, and then to spray off the sward and put in a catch crop brassica, such as Winfred forage rape or a mixture of forage rape, stubble turnips and kale like Autumn Feed. Sown in mid April, this will be ready to graze in July, making an ideal entry for a new grass crop in August.
“This also destroys the ‘green bridge’ on which pests such as leatherjackets and frit fly like to live and it also helps with perennial weed control.”
Mr Bonshor also feels there might be a lot of overseeding into older and gappy swards, over the next two months, where the time to do full reseeds has been missed.
“Using mixtures like Typhoon, with large seeded, aggressive species such as hybrid tetraploid ryegrasses and festulolium, are essential for overseeding to succeed. These seeds are competing with grass that already has a root system, so they need to be robust enough to get in and establish.”