I planted 5 acres of hay (for goats) last spring on an unused pasture.
I first used Roundup, waited two weeks, then ‘plowed it under’
and then seeded. It all started to grow fine until the weeds came.
It became unusable due to the thistle and other problem weeds grown
throughout. Any suggestions on how to proceed this spring?
Thanks for all of your help,
I’m sorry to hear of your problems. Spring is a tough time
to get hay crops established for the very reasons you have experienced.
Most of the crops we use for forages are much slower to germinate
and establish themselves than the weeds that compete with them.
I normally establish my hay very early in spring (Febuary or March)
by frost seeding into wheat or with a nurse crop of oats. Even then
there may be some competition with weeds, but the shade of the small
grain and the harvest activity seem to benefit the young hay.
Many growers prefer to get their hay crop started in the fall (late
August or September) to avoid the weed pressure. This is especially
true if you use herbicides, which we here at The Rodale Institute
do not use since we are certified organic. By planting at this time
of year, you take advantage of reduced weed pressure along with
the cooler weather (which can frost out the young weeds but not
hurt the hay). Of course, much of this depends on the area of the
country where you live and the type of hay you are producing. It's
difficult to tell with the little information I have, but you may
want to take a close look in spring to see how well the establishment
really is compared to the weeds. Keep in mind that hay crops are
designed to be mowed, and weeds generally don't tolerate that activity
as well. Based on the cost of good-quality hay seed, it may be worth
your time to take another look. If it truly is unsalvageable, you
may need to start over and simply try again. If you can spray Roundup
on what's there, you may be able to no-till drill the new hay into
the stand of dead plant material. If you need to plow, then I would
suggest a nurse crop, such as oats, be planted with the hay.
Hope this helps. Best of luck,
Thank you. I’ll give the spring seeding a try. I did notice
that when I cut in the fall, the weeds did die (per your point),
but the thistle still made the hay unusable. Perhaps an earlier
mowing as well.
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