Forage Crops

Posted on in Farm and Ranch

FORAGE CROPS FOR SOUTHERN OREGON

forage-crop-cows1Grange Co-op is southern Oregon’s leading supplier of seed for forage crops. Because forage crops such as pasture, hay, green chop and silage are so important to the agriculture economy of southern Oregon, Grange Co-op strives to provide our customers with the highest quality seed at competitive prices. We are also committed to providing customers with the information necessary to select the forage seed best suited to their needs as well as their growing environment.

Grange Co-op stocks the types and varieties of seed that have proven best adapted to the soils and growing conditions in the Rogue Valley. (Many more varieties of seed in-store in addition to those at the previous link.) Information gathered from Oregon State University, Southern Oregon Experiment Station, the Extension Service and local farmers is carefully considered in determining the varieties of seed we provide our customers. This evaluation assures positive results, when seeds are planted in properly prepared soil following good Management practices.

SEED QUALITY

The most significant measurements of seed quality are purity, viability and freedom from disease. Oregon law requires that each bag of seed display a tag showing the following information:

  1. Percentage of pure seed
  2. Percentage of other crop seeds
  3. Percentage of inert matter (dirt, chaff, etc.)
  4. Percentage of weed seeds
  5. Percentage of germination (how many of the seed will grow)

Certified Seed

Seed labeled “Certified” indicates that the purity of the seed has been certified by an independent agency. Oregon State University is the certification agency for all seed produced in Oregon. To meet certification requirements, seed fields are inspected by representatives of O.S.U. while the crop is growing. Inspectors look for varietal purity of the crop, noxious weeds disease and any other factors which might affect seed quality. At harvest, the seed is identified, cleaned and analyzed by O.S.U. for purity and germination. This process assures the buyer that the seed purchased is as represented. The cost of certification is paid by the grower.

Uncertified Seed

Seed growers can and do produce good quality seed which has not gone through the certification process. This seed is usually less expensive because the grower has not incurred the additional cost of certification. The quality of uncertified seed is dependent on the integrity of the grower and the reliability of the supplier. Grange Co-op’s customers can be confident that all the seed we sell is good quality – whether it is certified or uncertified.

PLANTING FORAGE CROPS

The true value of any seed is how well it grows!

SEED BED PREPARATION: The most important thing you can do to establish a stand of alfalfa, grasses or legumes is to provide a fine textured, firm seed bed. This takes time and effort but pays off in the long run in terms of quality and yield. Coarse, rough seed beds result in seeds placed much too deep, preventing many of them from emerging.

Shallow soils will not support very many plants per square foot. Deep soils and irrigated soils can support a good number of plants per square foot. If you have an understanding of the limits of your soil, you can base seeding rates on the potential for a good crop. There is no wisdom in wasting large amounts of seed on poor soil.

Grass seeds should be drilled no more than a half inch deep and legume seeds less than a half inch. Broadcast seedings on a good seed bed can be successful if lightly harrowed, and rolled after seeding. It is good practice to broadcast two ways, using half of the seed each time to help eliminate skips in the seeding.

Weather plays an important roll in planting. Seeding either too early or too late can significantly affect the results.

WEED CONTROL:
Your task is to eliminate or control undesirable species that may compete with your newly planted crop.

Most sites have a wide variety of weeds which means you will need both tillage and herbicides to control the weed load. First, use tillage equipment to attack existing growth well in advance of optimum seeding time. Perennial weeds, both grasses and broadleaves, can be troublesome to control. If you have land with a history of lax management, you may need a brush-hog approach to work on the brush and small trees, supplemented with herbicides. Be cautious because many brush killers result in time restrictions on harvesting or grazing. Our store employees and Field staff can make the proper recommendations for the use of herbicides.

FERTILIZING:

New crops need to be fed!

A soil analysis can determine the nutritional needs of your soil and serve as a guide for adding effective amendments. Lacking a soil test, growers should provide a minimum of 40 units of nitrogen per acre. If the crop mix includes legumes, the addition of phosphorus, potassium and sulfur will be necessary. Some soils will also need boron and other micronutrients. Our Grange Co-op field staff can help you determine what fertilizer materials are needed.

Check with your local Grange Co-op for current seed availability.

Recommended
Seeds
LBs Seed per Acre Preferred Seeding
Time
Principal Uses Average Height at
Maturity
Soil Adaptation Length of Life General Information
Orchard Grass 18-24 Sept. 1- Nov. 1Mar. 1 – April 15 Pasture, Hay, Silage, Seed 28 to 50 in. Well-drained soils, hill
lands
Long lived perennial Wide adaptation.
Very
Palatable. Used generally in pasture mixture.
Perennial Ryegrass 20-25 Sept. 15 – Nov. 1Mar. 1 – April 15 Seed, Pasture, Hay 15 to 24 in. Lowlands, poor drainage,
acid
Short lived perennial Longest lived of
the
ryegrasses. Well-suited for hay, pasture and seed. Often used in pasture
mixes.
Annual Ryegrass 20-25 Sept. 1 – Nov. 1 Seed, Hay, Pasture 18 to 30 in. Lowlands, poor drainage,
acid
Winter Annual Rapid growing forage grass.
Good for spring pasture and seed.
Fescue, Tall 20-25 Sept. 1 – Nov. 1Mar. 1 – April 15 Hay, Pasture 30 to 60 in. Moderately wet/dry
conditions
Long lived perennial Good management is
important to prevent the grass from becoming tall and bunchy.
Timothy 8-10 Sept. 15 – Nov. 1Mar. 1 – May 1 Pasture, Hay, Seed 30 to 48 in. Fertile, moist, medium heavy
soils
Short lived perennial Well adapted for
use in
pasture and meadow mixtures. Responds rapidly to use of fertilizers.
Sudan Grass 25-30 May 1 – June 15 Summer pasture, Hay, Seed 36 to 80 in. Warm clay loam and sandy
soil
Summer Annual Thrives in warm soils.
Reaches hay stage in 75 to 90 days. Good yielder, will develop prussic acid
when stunted or frosted.
White Clover 6-8 April 1 – June 15 Pasture, Seed 4 to 8 in. Moist, fertile soils Medium long-lived
perennial
Good pasture plant in
mixtures. Long season on fertile, moist soils. Use varieties recommended for
locations.
Subterranean Clover 20-25 Sept. 15 – Nov. 1 Pasture, Hay 4 to 8 in. Adapted to non irrigated
pastures
Prostrate winter annual Sub clover requires its own
unique inoculate. Can be used with or without other pasture mixes.
Red Clover 10-12 Feb. 1 – June 1 Hay, Seed, Pasture, Silage 24 to 35 in. Moderately moist, fertile
loam
Medium short-lived
perennial
Widely grown. Excellent
short-time rotation legume. Mixes well with grasses.
Crimson Clover 12-15 Sept. 15 – Oct. 15April 15 – June 1 Seed, Pasture, Green Manure 16 to 40 in. Well-drained, fertile soils Annual Good soil improver. Seed
shatters easily so harvest carefully. Can be fall-seeded. Summer pasture.
Alfalfa 15-20 Mar. 1 – May 1Sept. 1 – Oct. 1 Hay, Silage or Green Chop 25 to 45 in. Well-drained, fertile soils Long lived perennial Alfalfa is the best
yielding, highest quality forage plant known.
Birdsfoot Trefoil 6-8 April 15 – June 1 Pasture, Hay, Seed 12 to 30 in. Moist soils, acid
or mild
alkali
Long lived perennial Hardy, excellent
forage,
good in mixtures. Deep rooted. Needs specific inoculant. Alkali tolerant
where soil moisture is plentiful.
Grange
Co-op Pasture Irrigated Mix
20-25 Mar. 1 – May 1Sept. 1 – Oct. 1 Pasture, Hay, Silage 20 to 50 in. Wide adaptation Medium long lived A highly palatable blend of
grass seeds designed for quality hay, pasture or silage.
Grange
Co-op Pasture Non-Irrigated Mix
20-25 Oct. 1 – Nov. 15 Pasture 20 to 40 in. Wide adaptation Medium lived Generally not planted in
the spring. Use where soil is reasonably deep and has good moisture holding
qualities.

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