Frost Seeding Red Clover

By Clint Schroeder OSU Extension

The weather forecast for the next several days is ideal for frost seeding. Frost seeding is a very low cost way to establish new forages in existing fields or pastures by broadcast spreading the seed and letting the freezing and thawing cycles of the soil to pull the seed below the surface. With night time low temperatures in the mid 20s and daytime highs reaching the mid 40s over the next 4-5 days there will be several opportunities to broadcast the seed in the morning when the ground is frozen, before it thaws during the day. The chance of rain and higher temperatures in the 6-10 day forecast will be beneficial for germination and establishment.

Red clover generally works best for frost seeding because it is a heavier round seed that has a better chance of making seed to soil contact in this environment. Traditionally, red clover has shown a high seedling vigor that can be easily adapted to a wide range of soil pH levels and fertility conditions. Seeding rates can vary between 2 to 10 pounds per acre. Established pastures or forage fields that need supplemented will use lower rates. Small grain fields like wheat and barley will often require seeding rates at the higher end of that range.

More information on frost seeding can be found at these links.


Soil Residual Herbicides And Establishment Of Cover Crops In The Fall

By Marcelo Zimmer and Bill Johnson, Purdue Extension

Indiana growers have shown increased interest in utilizing cover crops in our corn and soybean production systems over the last decade.  Concurrently, there has also been increased utilization of soil residual herbicides to help manage herbicide-resistant weeds such as marestail (horseweed), waterhemp, and giant ragweed in our corn and soybean production systems.  Soil residual herbicides can remain active in the soil for a period of weeks to months after application.  The length of time a residual herbicide remains biologically active in the soil is influenced by soil texture, soil pH, organic matter, rainfall, and temperature.  Since these factors will vary from field to field, definitive time intervals of residual herbicide activity can be difficult to predict. Continue reading

Utilizing Cover Crops as Livestock Forage

Utilizing cover crops as forage not only provides feedstuffs for meeting the nutritional needs of livestock, but also offers soil health benefits. In this presentation originally offered during the COVID-19 quarantine period in April, 2020, OSU Extension Educator Christine Gelley discusses cover crop forage selection, seeding, management and harvest opportunities.

What’s That Smell?

Using a penetrometer to test soil compaction in a field with tillage radishes.

By Clint Schroeder OSU Extension

It’s becoming a common occurrence across the state. Small towns and rural areas plagued by a mysterious smell during the winter months. Natural gas? Raw sewage? Dead Animals? Nope, just radishes.

The radishes are planted as a cover crop by farmers in an effort to eliminate soil compaction and hold nutrients on their farm fields. Unlike the radishes you might see at the supermarket, these tillage radishes are white, and in the tuber stage they can grow up to 2 feet deep and 6 inches wide. Farmers are growing these root crops to replace tillage passes in the hopes of building organic matter in the soil and reducing erosion. When everything goes to plan the radishes winter kill after a stretch of temperatures around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. They then start to break down slowly. When temperatures rise to the upper 40’s and low 50’s the process is sped up and the decomposing crop can release a rather rancid odor.  The smell is often times reported to fire departments and utility companies as a gas leak. The only real way to stop the smell is a return to colder temperatures. As more farmers adopt cover cropping into their operation there will be a learning curve as to best management practices. Planting a mixture of covers such as oats and vetch along with radishes might be a way to help reduce the odor in future years.

Fall Herbicide Treatments and Cover Crops

By Mark Loux OSU Extension

There is still time to apply herbicides yet this fall. The frosts that are starting to occur have little effect on the weeds of concern – marestail, purple deadnettle, chickweed, etc. We have applied well into December with acceptable results. Fall treatments are a key component of marestail management programs, and it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to get the desired result.
• This pertains to marestail infestations in grass cover crops also. Cereal rye can integrate well with herbicides to improve control of marestail, but the help the rye provides is variable. In our studies, the rye has at some sites provided enough additional control that fall herbicides are unnecessary, but there have also been sites where the rye contributed almost no control.
• So in fields with grass covers and a history of marestail, our recommendation would be to either treat the fields this fall yet, or scout thoroughly for the presence of marestail before making a decision. Keep in mind also when making this decision, an early-planted cover that is well-established, uniform, and relatively tall at this time of the year is likely to provide more control of marestail and other weeds than a later-planted cover that is variable in stand and still small. Continue reading

Forages and Cover Crops for Beef Producers

by Stan Smith, OSU Extension

It goes without saying, for many, what we’ve experienced in the beef cattle industry beginning last year and continuing to this point in 2019 is uncharted territory. In response to the struggle to get corn planted and hay made this year, lots of questions have resulted. Following are responses to a few of those most Frequently Asked Questions thus far:

I didn’t get my hay fields fertilized last fall or this spring. Can I fertilize it now that first cutting just came off without “burning it up?”

Yes, in fact immediately after first cutting is removed is a particularly good time to fertilize grass hay fields. The gain is not only in the benefit of replacing the P and K that’s been removed, but also the opportunity to give grass a boost from the nitrogen that comes along with most phosphorus fertilizers. There’s more about fertilizing hay in this BEEF Cattle letter article from a few years ago:

How much nitrogen could I, or should I apply now?

After a first cutting of predominantly grass hay, 40 to 50 pounds of actual N should optimize second cutting yield (assuming it doesn’t quit raining now!). The nitrogen that comes along with 18-46-0 should be stable, but if urea or UAN are used, applying them right before rain will help to minimize N volatilization losses.

I heard cereal rye made great feed when planted on vacant acres. I was thinking about using it as a cover crop to bale after September 1, but my neighbor said he planted it one summer and it never got over 8 inches tall . . . should I use oats instead, and why?

If you need forage or bedding yet this year, oats will be most productive of the two. Cereal rye is much like wheat in it’s growth and will not provide abundant growth until after it’s gone dormant this winter. Here’s more detail from an article that was posted a while back:

I hear that cereal rye and ryegrass would both make good covers for planting later this summer and that I could then bale next spring. What’s the difference, and which one do I want?

Ryegrass will result in higher quality feed while cereal rye may offer more tonnage from a single cutting. Cereal rye also makes better bedding than ryegrass.  If fertilized properly, ryegrass could offer a second cutting of high quality feed in the early summer. Here’s a more extensive comparison of the two from the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Commission at

I got some of what ultimately have become my Prevented Planting acres sprayed with herbicides. If I plant those acres to a cover crop for feed, are there any issues with grazing or feeding the resulting crop?

The only way to know is to check the label of the herbicides that were applied. The Ohio, Indiana and Illinois Weed Control Guide also has useful information in that regard.

If I plant soybeans (or other legumes) as a cover crop, what kind of cattle feeding complications should I be concerned with if I use these cover crops for silage, grazing or hay harvested after September 1?

Because excess fat from soybeans can depress fermentation in the rumen, the maximum amount of soybean forage that can be fed should be based on its fat concentration. Find more detail in this article from 2005 by Mark Sulc:

I want to use Canadian feed oats for a cover crop, but in order to receive the recently announced NRCS EQIP cover crop cost share money for them, I must have them tested for purity, germ, and % weed seeds. Where can I get this done?

The Ohio Department of Agriculture can do this testing and presently there is no cost:

  • Farmers can send a one quart bag full of seeds for testing to ODA.
  • ODA sends the samples they receive to a lab out of state for testing.
  • Presently each Ohio farmer can get a total of 3 seed lots tested for free.
  • Turn around time on the tests would be 2 to 3 weeks depending on what day they are received.
  • More info from ODA on seed testing can be found here.

Prevent Plant, Cover Crops, and More

Last night I was in attendance as a panel of experts talked us through a lot of the issues we are facing in agriculture this spring/summer.  The event was put on by OSU Extension and Ohio No-Till Council and held at the McIntosh Center on the campus of Ohio Northern University.  We’re also thankful that the Ohio Country Journal was on hand to record the panel and you can watch the video at their website, I’m going to try and summarize some of the issues, but if you have specific questions please get in contact with the extension office by calling 419-879-9108.

  1. If you have livestock and are running low on forages now, or anticipate a need before this winter what are your options? You can plant a forage crop on prevented plant acres and harvest it after September 1st under the new RMA/crop insurance guidelines. In this scenario corn is eligible to planted and chopped for silage.  However, you need to check with your crop insurance adjuster on what exactly is allowable so that you do not jeopardize your prevent plant payment. A common recommendation seems to be to plant the corn in 20″ rows or narrower and increase planted populations to 40,000 seeds per acre or higher.  Again, check with your agent/adjuster to make sure you are in compliance.  Other popular forage options are sorghum/sudan grass and oats.  If you are interested in either of these crops please try to get your seed ordered as soon as possible as supply will get tight.
  2. What can I do with treated soybean seed that is not returnable to the dealer? By far, the best option is to plant them, even as just a cover crop.  There are concerns about the insecticide used and what is the maximum rate that they can be planted at.  We would prefer rates of no more than 300,000 seeds per acre. This seed also needs to be covered so that it isn’t creating a harmful impact to wildlife or pollinators.  If you plan on broadcasting the treated seed you will need to incorporate it with either a disk or vertical tillage tool.  We do not recommend trying to carry seed over for planting in 2020.  The 2018 crop had some issues with poor germination scores already and those scores will only get worse even if the seed is stored under ideal conditions (less than 50 degrees and 50% humidity).
  3. What are my options on trying to kill some of these larger weeds that have grown up in preventive plant fields? Mowing them down would be the cheapest option, but most time consuming.  It will also scatter the weed seed and prolong your problem.  Tillage is an option, but it will probably take several passes to get everything killed.  There are lots of herbicide options available, but we need to be cautious on what the plant back intervals are for each herbicide used.  Most of the fields will have at least one species of weeds that is resistant to glyphosate so we need to be using higher rates and tank mix partners.  We also need to be aware of sensitive crops or gardens that might be impacted by drifts or temperature inversions if we are using Dicamba or 2,4-D products.  Mowing first will not make the weeds easier to kill with a herbicide later.
  4.  Are there any cost sharing opportunities for planting cover crops from soil and water districts or USDA – NRCS? The NRCS today has announced that they have $4 million available to producers that plant a cover crop.  Details are still coming out as far as payment amounts and eligibility requirements.  As more information becomes available it will be shared with producers.
  5. How has the excessive rain impacted my soil health? The rains have diminished our soil structure no matter what management practices are in place on your farm.  No air has been incorporated into the soil and this is greatly impacting the natural soil biology. We need to start the recovery process this summer on those acres.  Do not let them sit fallow until next spring.  Get your soils tested and then use this opportunity to apply lime and gypsum if needed.  This might also be an opportunity to apply manure on fields with low phosphorous levels.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Lima and Allen County community for the warm welcome I’ve received over the last couple of weeks.  I’m really excited to meet more of you in the ag community here.  I’m currently looking for some volunteers that would let me come out to their farm and pull samples for some research OSU is doing on soybean cyst nematodes. We need to stay ahead of this pathogen so we can continue to develop resistant varieties.  If you are interested please contact me via email at or by calling the extension office at 419-879-9108.