Common frost seeding practices:
- Under-seeding small grains (generally red or mammoth clover) can be put on with spring nitrogen applications
- Thicken pastures, hay fields or waterways with grasses and/or legumes
- For high-traffic livestock paddocks, use grasses and/or legumes
- You will need to remove livestock until crops are established
- With row crop acres you could increase bio-mass for spring, kick start biology and provide weed suppression
- If you were not able to get fall cover crops on
- If you seeded cover crops too late in the fall, and there was not much growth or had winter kill
- For fall covers that were winter kill species— give some growth in spring to make them easier to terminate
- Use this method for later row crops such as pumpkins, vegetables, etc.
- These practices can be mixed with spring fertilizer needs (do not apply fertilizer on completely frozen/sloping ground
Products that can be successfully frost seeded in the Midwest*:
Grasses – annual and perennial ryegrass, orchard grass, timothy and oats
Legumes – medium red, mammoth, white, alsike, sweet clovers and birdsfoot trefoil
*Consult local advisors for specific recommendations and conditions for your farm that favor frost seeding.
It is time to be planning early spring seeding (drilling or broadcast) as well as waterway, pasture and hay field mixes. Many times, a custom mix will fit your specific needs best.
For more information on frost seeding, download the article by Stephen Barnhart, Iowa State University Extension agronomist: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/Improving-Pasture-By-Frost-Seeding
Brian Wieland is a cover crop specialist for Bio-Till and a CCA from Princeville, Ill. Passionate for regenerative soil health, he works with growers across the Midwest to provide crop and livestock solutions with practical advice. For more information email Brian at email@example.com.