In the northern quarter of Illinois, spring seedings for hay and pasture species are more successful than late-summer seedings; but in the southern onethird of the state, late-summer seedings are more successful. In central Illinois, you can go with either spring or late-summer dates.
The reason that late-summer seedings are preferred in southern Illinois is that wet soils and inclement weather usually hamper early spring seedings and timely weed control programs in that part of the state.
The spring-seeding date in northern Illinois is late March or early April, as soon as a seedbed can be prepared. An exception is when seedings are made in a fall-seeded winter annual companion crop. In this case, hay and pasture species should be seeded about the time of the last snow.
Spring seedings of grasses or legumes into spring oats should be done at the same time as the oats are seeded.
The late-summer seeding date is August 10 in the northern quarter of Illinois, August 30 in central Illinois, and September 15 in the southern quarter of Illinois. To assure that the plants become wellestablished before winters seedings should be made close to these dates and not more than five days later.
The seeding rates for hay and pasture mixtures- which are indicated in the current nlinois Agronomy Handbook-are for average conditions when mixtures are seeded with a companion crop in the spring or without a companion crop in late summer.
If you seed alfalfa without a companion crop in the spring, you may want to use higher seeding rates. Higher rates have proven economical when alfalfa was seeded as a pure stand in early spring and two or three harvests were taken in the seeding year. Seeding alfalfa at 18 pounds per acre has produced 0.2- to 0.4-ton higher yields than seeding at 12 pounds per acre in northern and central Illinois, but not in southern Illinois.
Alfalfa may be established successfully in April in northern and central Illinois, and no companion crop is necessary if you use timely applications of herbicides. Preemergence herbicides have been satisfactory in most trials.
However, currently approved preemergence herbicides--Balan and Eptam--kill grasses, so they cannot be used if you intend to use a legume-grass mixture. Instead, you need to use the postemergence herbicide 2,4DB. It does not kill legumes or grasses, but it controls most broadleaved weeds, if applied when the weeds are not more than 2 or 3 inches tall.
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