Are you looking to improve your grassland ready for the spring? Here Peter Hunter Seeds offers advice on grassland recovery:
1. Poached land can be rescued, but timing is very important. If the ground is too wet, using a tractor will make a real mess. If the ground has dried out too much, then hoofprints and ruts will not roll back, leaving you with an uneven rough field which is not suitable for riding on.
2. Start renovating work when the land is drying out and the temperature is warming up.
3. Harrow the field. This will tear out old feg and moss, and make a partial seedbed. Harrow as a matter of routine, particularly if the droppings are not being collected.
4. Oversow poached or damaged areas as weeds may invade these areas. Grass seed can be spread by hand, drill or fertiliser spreader.
5. After the seed has been sown, lightly harrow then roll.
6. Choose your grass seed carefully for your particular requirements, we would suggest a good paddock mixture should be hard wearing and provide a thick and relatively short sward. If your field needs a complete reseed, March, April, August or September is a good time.
7. If the preparation is right then the maintenance and upkeep is relatively easy. Topping stops the grazing sward from getting leggy and encourages horses to graze the entire field, not just parts of it.
8. Pull out weeds when you see them and don’t leave them to spread their seeds. Droppings should be removed on a daily basis.
9. Feed in different parts of the field to avoid poaching and spread by hand a little seed in those areas each time.
10. Put in an extra gate. This will prevent poaching and allow one gateway time to recover.
Despite poor grass seed harvest conditions, increased haulage charges and general inflation Peter Hunter Seeds are holding their mixture prices until the end of February.
Some grasses are in particularly short supply, such as: Hybrid Ryegrasses, Late Tetraploid Perennial Ryegrasses, Meadow Fescue and Fine Leaved Chewings Fescue.
After the atrocious summer and autumn of 2012, most re-seeding plans were not carried out, so supply might outstrip demand in spring 2013.
Many fields that had poor yields of cereals or maize may also go back to grassland, increasing further the demand for grass seed.
Last year the only month suitable for re-seeding was March but many people thought that it might be safer to sow in April, when we all know, it rained virtually every day and sowing became impossible.
The conclusion must be to sow grass seed, when soil and weather conditions allow and not necessarily by a calendar date.
Peter Hunter Seeds offers advice on all aspects of grassland management and supplies grass seeds for the equine and agricultural industry. He can be contacted on 07831 442415 or visit www.hunterseeds.com.