Category Archives: General

Hay Meadow Establishment

In 2014 I decided that I was going to establish an improved Bermuda grass meadow in Van Zandt County East Texas. My first step was to collect information on which hybrid grass species would best suit my needs and property. I spoke with local hay producers and sprigging company’s which ultimately led me to choose Tifton 85. The next step was to contact the N.R.C.S.(Natural Resources Conservation Service) and ascertain if there was a possibility of assistance from any government programs for forage production. Once these steps were complete I set a time line for setting the sprigs in April or May of 2015.

Deciding on which species I was going to plant was basically a choice between Tifton and Coastal Bermudas as these are the most common for our area. My property is a light clay soil and is the top of a hill. Either grass species would do well on the property so it then came down to productivity. According to my resources the Tifton 85 would perform better and had a better drought tolerance. The year of 2014 was our third year of a severe drought and I felt that I could hedge my bet by choosing the Tifton.

Researching N.R.C.S. I found that there were programs that could assist in establishing a new meadow if it met certain conditions. The main condition was that the acreage did not have an existing suitable forage stand. My property had been planted for sorghum previous to my acquisition of it leaving the field with virtually no permanent grasses on it.

Upon contacting the N.R.C.S. representative, he informed me that I would need to register my farm with the U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture). He assisted me in contacting the U.S.D.A in my region. The U.S.D.A representative informed me of what documents I would need to bring and set me an appointment to complete registration of the farm.

Once the farm was registered I again returned to the N.R.C.S. and started the process to receive assistance with the hay sprigging. The agent assisted me in filling out the application and establishing a plan of action.

My soil test revealed that my property had a ph level 5.7 and would need a ton per acre of lime to bring the level up to an acceptable level. I decided that I would put the lime down in September after I sub soiled the land and ran a disk over it to destroy all vegetation. After the application of the lime I brought in a breaking disc and turned over the soil in late November.

I located a local grass sprigging provider who agreed to conduct the sprigging in early spring utilizing local sprigs. The spring of 2015 was extremely wet for North East Texas and prevented the planting until May the 7th where we had a short window  where the rain let up. Once the field was planted the rain set back in and the field was saturated for 30 days. Two weeks after the rain quit the sprigs emerged from the ground and 45 days after that I cut and baled the field netting one and a half bales per acre. I got a second cutting in the fall at just over 2 bales per acre and left the grass at 6 inches tall going into the winter.

I am going to describe in more detail the field preparation, fertilization and weed management in future post.

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