Many farmers are questioning what to sow this year as bad weather continues to delay planting. However, Cotswold Seed’s managing director, Ian Wilkinson, says despite bad weather and poor seed beds, there are a lot of grasses that aren’t too late to sow.
“Most grass seed mixtures should be fine to sow until mid-October, providing we get some dry weather,” he says. “Farmers must forget the calendar and plan on planting and go when the seed bed is firm and fine. Lucerne, Sainfoin and stubble turnips are too late to plant,” he adds.
If planning to plant clover, this must take priority, adds Mr Wilkinson. “Clovers can still go in, but this must be sooner rather than later, as clovers take more time to establish.”
Ian Misselbrook of Advanta Seeds emphasises the importance of planting clover in times of rising fertiliser costs. “As fertiliser prices continue to soar, it is vital to include high clover grass leys to keep costs down,” he says.
“Clover has the ability to fix nitrogen at the equivalent of 200kg nitrogen a hectare a year, so could bring huge savings on fertiliser inputs. And with nitrogen fertiliser now priced at around £370 a tonne (34.5%) the actual nitrogen value of clover in the ley is worth about £220 a hectare a year.”
Mr Misselbrook adds the ideal time to reseed is while air temperatures remain above 15C and advises the best method to establish clover is to drill it with grass.
Mr Wilkinson says ryegrasses such as Italian, Perennial and hybrid are more forgiving and should be sown within the next month.
“And planting ryegrass should allow for a good crop even if sown later, as they are quicker to get established and can grow in lower temperatures,” he says. “We have got moisture, some warmth and still long days and so it is not too late, just make sure you plant aggressive species,” he adds.
- Clover plant soon
- Temperatures above 15C
- Ryegrasses need moisture and warmth