What Seeds Can Be Frost Seeded? [11 Replies Found]

Frost seeding grasses…Sometimes it’s desirable to introduce grasses into old alfalfa stands. This offers some unique challenges because most cool season grasses do not establish from frost seeding with the success of legumes. A University of Wisconsin study compared frost seeding establishment of several cool-season grass species into older, established alfalfa stands (West and Undersander, 1997) 😉 In this two year trial, perennial ryegrass and orchardgrass exhibited the best establishment success, smooth bromegrass was intermediate in establishment, while reed canarygrass and timothy had the fewest productive seedlings develop 🙈 Although smooth bromegrass was only intermediate in establishment, its sod-forming growth habit would likely result in additional plant formation from rhizomes 😁 [1]
The optimum practise is to seed early in the spring after the snow is gone but while the ground is still frozen. The repeated freezing and thawing will cause some of the seed to fall into soil cracks and germinate. Frost seeding can be done over a thin layer of snow. However, be aware that rapid snow melt can cause the seed to be washed off the pasture. Frost seeding can also be done in December once growth has stopped for the year and before snowfall. This timing works well in areas that receive good snow cover and do not experience prolonged winter thaws. Frost seeding does not work on sandy soils where there is no swelling and shrinking associated with the freeze-thaw cycle. (credit to Timoteo Ernst having brought this to our attention). [2]
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Based upon a new article from grazer.ca.uky.edu, the frost seeding method allows seeds to be inter-seeded into undisturbed soils by scattering seed on top of the ground. The freezing and thawing action of the soil works the seeds into the soil where they can germinate. In Kentucky, the ideal time to frost seed is between February 10 and March 1, with mid-February preferred. It is important to consider what forage species can be successfully frost seeded. Seeding red and white clover is recommended using this method. While it is possible to frost seed some grass species, it is typically less successful and generally not recommended. Using this technique can reduce machine use and seeding cost. It is also beneficial as it can be done at times when utilizing heavy machinery would damage pastures such as extremely wet periods. Individual pasture characteristics should also be considered when deciding if frost seeding will be successful on your farm. (last modified 62 days ago by Tishana Gamboa from Daye, China) [3]
Based around a new article from omafra.gov.on.ca, frost seeding is an economical method of improving pasture and hay fields by broadcasting the seed on frozen ground. As the ground freezes and thaws, it opens and closes allowing the seed to be incorporated into the soil. This keeps the seed from germinating until there is a good moisture supply early in the spring. Legumes are the most successful for this system as they tend to be rounded, dense and most importantly, they -germinate at lower temperatures so will begin growth early in the spring. Grasses have not been as successful as they are lighter colored, less dense thus they sit on top of the ground and wait for warmer temperatures to begin growth. This often coincides with drier weather as well. (emended by Rhawnie Castillo on December 18, 2020) [4]

Article References

  1. https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/forage/frost-seeding-legumes-and-grasses-into-established-pastures/
  2. https://eorganic.org/node/7970
  3. https://grazer.ca.uky.edu/content/frost-seeding
  4. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/98-071.htm
Mae Chow

Written by Mae Chow

Passionate about writing and studying Chinese, I blog about anything from fashion to food. And of course, study chinese! I'm a passionate blogger and life enthusiast who loves to share my thoughts, views and opinions with the world. I share things that are close to my heart as well as topics from all over the world.

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