Successful establishment of forage and pastures is determined by many factors, some can be controlled, others such as climatic conditions cannot.
Some management factors, controlled well, will go a long way to ensuring a good catch.
Provide a firm and even seed bed for good soil to seed contact.
Consider suitability of mixture for field in question. Take into account drainage aspect and history.
If Spring seeding, seed with or without a cover crop as early as practically possible to increase access to sufficient early moisture.
If Summer seeding, risk is increased, but nevertheless it can be equally successful given favorable conditions. Some points to bear in mind: Seeding too early exposes the seed/seedlings to frost damage whereas seeding too late exposes sensitive seedlings to hot dry conditions. Generally Summer seeding should be done between15th-30th August. Legumes seeded in September or October with a few exceptions rarely survive the winter.
Remember that agricultural soils throughout the country have an inherent weed seed bank that includes many species that will lie dormant in the soil for decades waiting for the right conditions to propagate themselves. Given a good solid healthy stand of forage this should not pose a problem. However, if the stand is sparse or stressed in any way, weeds will take the opportunity to crowd out a thin stand of newly established forage. Often deep plowing will bring previously dormant weed seeds to the surface.
- Alfalfa Toxicity - Seeding alfalfa after alfalfa is risky and not recommended as old stands of alfalfa release a toxin that reduces the germination and growth of new alfalfa seedlings. Root growth is hugely inhibited and these toxins are generally present for up to about 6 months. It is recommended that an alternate crop is planted before reseeding alfalfa or at the very least the field is plowed down in early fall and allowed to over winter. The toxins are not however present in the first year of establishment so seeding failures or new seedings that were winter killed can be reseeded the following spring with no ill effect.With old established stands that are thinning out, red clover and perennial ryegrass can be used to thicken them up.
IMPROVE ON YOUR SUCCESSFUL ESTABLISHMENT EVEN MORE BY PLANTING CERTIFIED SEED BACKED UP WITH GOOD TRIAL DATA.