Sow to soil tem­per­a­ture for best re­sults

Shepparton News - Country News - - DAIRY NEWS -

When is the right time to get your au­tumn pas­tures sown?

This is a com­mon ques­tion and dis­cus­sion point at this time of the year, es­pe­cially once the weather starts to cool. So what is the an­swer? Firstly, there is no sil­ver bul­let — sorry to dis­ap­point!

Sow­ing date will de­pend on the for­age type you’re work­ing with, your re­gion and your cli­mate.

Sow­ing to a soil tem­per­a­ture will give the best re­sult, not a cal­en­dar date (although, for rye-grass, af­ter St Pa­trick’s Day seems to be pop­u­lar).

Rye-grass needs a soil tem­per­a­ture of less than 25°C to ger­mi­nate. To mea­sure this, you can ei­ther in­vest in a soil ther­mome­ter or use the air tem­per­a­ture as an in­di­ca­tor.

For rye-grass we want an av­er­age daily tem­per­a­ture less than 25°C for seven to 10 con­sec­u­tive days. Ce­re­als, on the other hand, want a daily tem­per­a­ture of less than 20°C for the same pe­riod.

Sow­ing too early and get­ting some hot tem­per­a­tures (mixed with hot, ex­posed wa­ter due to ir­ri­gat­ing prior to any plant canopy buildup) on freshly ger­mi­nated plants is a recipe for fail­ure.

Although early sow­ing can re­sult in ex­tra feed avail­able to cows (as­sum­ing grow­ing con­di­tions are right) — which is a big plus for freshly calved cows — if the tim­ing is wrong then there is the risk of hav­ing to re­sow pas­tures, which is an added cost in an al­ready tight cash­flow year.

So as men­tioned at the start, there is no sil­ver bul­let. Sow­ing to tem­per­a­ture will give you a bet­ter chance to get your au­tumn pas­tures up and away.

There is plenty of hay and or silage around this year that can be used to fill cows up to help pro­tect the fresh pas­ture.

Very early sow­ing can in­crease au­tumn yield (if con­di­tions are suit­able), but there is a large risk of sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced ger­mi­na­tion due to con­di­tions be­ing too hot. Be aware that a cool Fe­bru­ary does not nec­es­sar­ily mean a cool March, as many may re­mem­ber from 2016. ■ For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion please check the Mur­ray Dairy web­site http:// mur­ray­dairy.com.au/ Lit­er­a­tureRetrieve.aspx? ID=153141 and speak to your agron­o­mist for the best sow­ing pro­gram for your farm busi­ness.

— Lisa Birrell, Mur­ray Dairy

When is time right? . . . Soil tem­per­a­ture is a good guide to sow­ing time.

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