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Switchgrass

dbltree

Super Moderator
Quick Guide to switchgrass establishment:

Kill cool season grasses the year before by mowing in early August and spraying with 41% glyphosate in late August thru October and add 2 ounces of Oust XP and one quart crop oil concentrate for added residual control. Re-spray any remaining re-growth in late September after remaining fescue seeds have time to germinate.

Keystone Pest is a source for generic Oust XP (SFM 75)

Planting RR soybeans the spring prior is the perfect way to prepare for switchgrass

Frost or dormant seed switchgrass late December thru March with late January to mid February being the most effective time period. Broadcast or drill on frozen soils at 5-10#'s per acre.

Cave In Rock is a preferred variety for whitetail cover (in midwest) because it is tall and thick cover that stands up better in winter.

Osenbaugh’s Prairie Seed Farms is a top quality source where you can also get personal service and answers to questions.

Spray glyphosate and atrazine by late April using 1 quart gly and 2 1/2 quarts atrazine on light soils, 4-5 quarts atrazine on heavy soils. If weed growth is not present then adding gly is unnecessary, using Oust the fall before usually negates the need for gly in the spring. Atrazine is a restricted use pesticide so will require hiring your ag co-op or area farmer to apply

Mowing may be required if any weed growth persists but keep mower raised 8-12" above the ground or it can damage or kill young switch seedlings.


Since switchgrass is a different "breed" so to speak then the rest of the NWSG, I thought I would make a separate post regarding it's establishment.



Switchgrass is in my opinion the very best cover for both deer and pheasants. The NWSG mixes have their place and if you can plant some of each, as I have, you can provide the best in nesting habitat and winter cover.



Switchgrass is the ultimate in winter cover because it will remain standing. A heavy wet winter snow will bend it over, but after a little sun it will spring back upright...the same cannot be said of other prairie grasses which can end up flat as a pancake by spring.

Switchgrass is best frost seeded because it needs to stratify by means of wet, freezing, thawing action common thru late Jan. to early March. It can be broadcast or drilled in killed sod or crop stubble at 5-6# per acre.





A bag seeder works well for larger acreages



3 pt seeders will also work well but adjust the opening to barely the width of the small seed or you'll end up with "dumped" in a small area.



Drills work well on frozen soils in late winter and see need only be dropped on the surface



Switchgrass is like corn, it loves nitrogen and is atrazine resistant. Atrazine is a RUP (restricted use pesticide) so you either need to have the elevator or a farmer with a RUP applicator license apply it. (or have a farmer friend buy it for you and put it on yourself

Atrazine can be put on at 2-4 qts per acre (more is better)...you can't kill it and if you control weeds and grass it will go like gang busters the first year.

Spray small areas by hand:



or larger areas with a field sprayer:




NOTE: Journey herbicide can kill or injure new seedlings so is not the best bet for straight switch. You can apply Journey to established switch when it is dormant (very early spring)
If you control weeds by mowing, it will take 3 very long years!! If you mow...do not mow more then 8-12" high as you can easily kill new seedlings.

Once established it is best to burn every 3-5 years, or mowing if burning is not an option.



Do not apply nitrogen on a new seeding as it will only encourage weed growth, after that it's optional. If you have good corn ground it will do fine with out any help. On poor ground you can thicken the stand with fertilizer.

I find that deer love my switchgrass year around! Beds abound in it and I have jumped countless bucks that left me agape as I watched them vanish in the tall grass.





The power plant at Ottumwa is currently using baled switchgrass along with coal to fire the plant. It's hoped that switchgrass will become a viable, renewable power source as well as income for producers with HEL.
If you are not signing up a new CRP contract (which will require the NWSG mix) you may prefer to give straight switchgrass a try...for deer cover, you won't be sorry!
Here's a great link to more info on establishing switchgrass.

Seeding Recommendations

Osenbaugh’s Prairie Seed Farms is a great Iowa seed source

While Cave In Rock is my favorite for holding mature whitetails, there are many varieties to choose from. There are two main types of switchgrass: upland types, which usually grow 5 to 6 feet tall and are adapted to well drained soils, and low land types, that grow up to 12 feet tall and which are typically found on heavy soils in bottom-land sites.

I have found that most other varieties other the CIR tend to die out over time and you can see pictures and examples further along in this thread.

Switchgrass varieties:

Upland varieties

Cave In Rock is one of the tallest, rankest, most winter hardy and longest lived
Shawnee and CIR are the two top varieties in Iowa tested for bio-fuels production

Trailblazer is a good tall variety

Nebraska 28
Blackwell a shorter variety better suited for upland bird habitat
Caddo
Pathfinder

Forsetburg Upper plains states
Dakotah

Lowland varieties

Alamo
Kanlow
<table id="table21" class="emphasis-pub-lightyellow" border="1" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td colspan="2" bgcolor="#ffff00">Upland Varieties</td></tr><tr><td width="14%">Trailblazer</td><td width="86%">Developed by USDA-ARS and Nebraska Agricultural Research Division, Dept. of Agronomy, Univ. of Nebraska. Released 1984. Collections from natural grasslands in Nebraska and Kansas. Adapted to Central Great Plains and adjacent Midwestern states. (Good choice for Midwestern / Southern state areas)</td></tr><tr><td>Blackwell</td><td>Developed by Plant Materials Center, NRCS, Manhattan, Kansas. Released 1944. Upland type switchgrass. Widely adapted to Kansas, Oklahoma, southern Nebraska, and northern Texas in areas with 20 inches or more of annual precipitation. (Good choice for Midwestern / Southern state areas)
Technical Info:
http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/news/features/great_am_plant/blackwell.html




</td></tr><tr><td>Cave-in-Rock</td><td>Plant Materials Center, NRCS in cooperation with the Missouri AES. Released 1973. Tolerant to flooding. Adapted to Midwest. (Good choice for Midwestern / Southern state areas)
Tech Info: http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/mopmcfscavinroc.pdf




</td></tr><tr><td>Dacotah</td><td>Northern state variety.
Tech Info: http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/ndpmcrbpavi2daco.pdf




</td></tr><tr><td>Pathfinder</td><td>Selected at Nebraska AES, Lincoln, ARS cooperating. Released 1967. Winter-hardy, late maturing. (Good choice for Midwestern / Northern state areas)</td></tr><tr><td>Sunburst</td><td>Northern state variety. (Good choice for Northern states) - Larger seeds are ideal for wildlife food purposes.</td></tr><tr><td>Caddo</td><td>Selected at Oklahoma AES, Stillwater, ARS cooperating. Released 1955. Forage yield under irrigation outstanding for native grass; recovers well after mowing.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="2" bgcolor="#ffff00">Lowland Varieties</td></tr><tr><td>Alamo</td><td>Developed by Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and NRCS, Knox City, Texas. Released 1978. A premier lowland variety, heavy yields especially in the south. (Good choice for Southern states)
Technical Info: http://tfss.tamu.edu/pasture_grasses.htm




</td></tr><tr><td>Kanlow</td><td>Developed at Kansas AES and ARS, Manhattan. Released 1963. Developed for soil conservation in poorly drained or frequently flooded sites. (Good choice for Midwestern / Southern states)
Technical Info: http://okcrop.com/kanlow_switchgrass.htm
Also: http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/kspmcnl7249.pdf




</td></tr><tr><td colspan="2">Basic variety info Source: Oregon State University, 2006. </td></tr></tbody></table>
Planting 5-6#'s per acre in February or March to help stratify dormant seed, broadcast or drill into killed frozen sod. It is important to remember that switchgrass seed is often naturally dormant may not germinate with out being stratified first. Stratification occurs naturally in the wild by being exposed to the cold wet chill of late winter rains and freezing/thawing action. It also can occur by aging seed for 1- 3 years but then the number of viable seeds per pound can begin to drop as well.

Frost or dormant seeding is the natural way that switchgrass perpetuates itself in a wild prairie but common perception is that the soil must be tilled and the tiny seeds "planted" like conventional crops. This is the largest cause of failure or delayed germination as dormant seed lays there until exposed to cold wet chill the following year.

Cave In Rock is one of the most sought after switchgrass varieties because it is such a tall and dominate species but it is also one of the most dormant seeds. Dormancy however is not an issue when seed is broadcast or drilled onto frozen soils in February or March.

Blackwell is one of the least dormant along with NE28 and are better suited for spring drilling but they are more susceptible to rust and disease then Cave In Rock and therefor may not be as long lived.

Tilling the soil is not only unnecessary but only encourages weeds, erosion and increases the expense of establishing switchgrass and does NOTHING to better the odds of establishing a stand. Odds of failure have proven lowest among frost seed switchgrass stands.

Dormant seeding is the least expensive most successful method of sowing all NWSG and forbs and that makes it easy for almost anyone to plant them with little or no equipment.

Switchgrass will grow on most soils from sand to heavy clay but thrives on rich moist soils and can handle some brief flooding along waterways.

Herbicides Atrazine or simazine at no less then 2.5 quarts per acre before weeds emerge and they can be combined for more effective weed control.

Atrazine is a Restricted Use pesticide that requires a license to purchase so that requires having an ag co-op/farm elevator apply it of purchasing thru a farmer or friend who has a license. Although atrazine has received a great deal of attention because it has been applied at up to 34.7 million gallons on our nations corn fields, thus ending up in waterways and drinking water, it is NOT a problem for a one time application to establish switchgrass.

Atrazine 4L herbicide label

Simazine (brand name Princep 4l) is an unrestricted trizine herbicide that can be used alone or in conjunction with atrazine or Oust XP at roughly 2 quarts per acre. Both simazine and Oust XP are commonly used on tree plantings so are useful herbicides in anyone's habitat program.

Simazine 4L herbicide label

Oust XP has proven to also be a highly effective pre-emergent herbicide for weed control in switchgrass plantings. Use 1-2 ounces per acre (it can be fall or spring applied before switchgrass emerges) and runs roughly $5.50 an ounce from Townsend Chemical. The label recommends that one wait 3 months before planting switchgrass if 2 ounces of Oust is applied so applying in late fall or early spring is safest, although I have had no problems with late spring and switchgrass emergence.

Oust XP Label

Townsend Chemical will sell Oust XP by the ounce (minimum 2 ounces ) and it runs under $6 an ounce.

Townsend Chemical

Paramount (Quinclorac) is a post emergent herbicide approved for switchgrass, big and little bluestem and side oats gama and applied at 5.3-8 ounces per acre as is effective at controlling emerged foxtail.

Paramount Label

Drive 75 is another Quinclorac product identical to Paramount but available in smaller more affordable quantities

Drive 75 Herbicide - 1 LB (Quinclorac, Quinstar)

DRIVE 75 DF HERBICIDE WEED CONTROL CRABGRASS Quinclorac

Paramount and Drive 75 can be applied to growing switchgrass and will effectively kill growing foxatil and other annual weeds.


Dual Magnum II (S-metolachlor) works very well and is not a RUP but it can cause problems unless the seed is safened (protected) with a seed safener like Concep, an inexpensive product that is used to safen sorghum seed as well. Dual can be applied at up to 2.5 pints per acre and can be applied in combination with both atrazine and simazine including a combination of all three.

Concep Seed Safener source

Dual MagnumII Label

Cinch ATZ is a pre-mixed combination of atrazine and s-metolachlor.

Accent is approved for corn and switchgrass primarily for controlling annual grasses but it quite expensive.

Accent Label

Accen Source

After switchgrass has 3-4 leaves, use 2-4D at 1-3 quarts per acre to kill broadleaves.

NOTE: A combination of glyphosate, atrazine and/or simazine and crop oil can be applied up to May 10th to both kill late germinating cool season grasses and provide season long control.
Burning Maintain switchgrass plantings by burning every 3-5 years although more frequent burnings are helpful. It is very important to burn late in the spring, late April through mid May to set back and discourage cool season invasives and encourage the switchgrass (and other natives). The switch will grow quickly on the sun warmed blackened soil allowing it to over power and dominate other invasive species.

Lime and fertilizer

Switchgrass will respond to proper soil nutrition even though it will grow on almost anything. Soil testing is recommended first and applications of lime and P&K the fall before is best. With excellent residual weed control, nitrogen can be applied the establishment year and like corn, switch will grow quickly with higher N levels. Without good weed control however nitrogen will only encourage a flush of weed growth and have the opposite affect on the seedling switchgrass.

Once established urea can be applied in mid to late June just before a minimum of a 1/2" of rain to encourage tall robust growth. Burning however is all that is really needed to turn straw and thatch into nitrates that the plant can use and is the inexpensive and natural way to rejuvenate and encourage switchgrass growth.



Switchgrass is the most popular and easily managed native grass in the Midwest. Seeding this warm season grass can vary from region to region and even site to site but there is one fail safe way to get results on your pure stand of Switchgrass, that’s a frost seeding. To ensure the maximum results from your frost seeding, you should broadcast the Switchgrass before February 28th. Even with snow on the ground you should broadcast right on top, the Switchgrass will work its way down to the soil. Ideally it’s best to broadcast right before a good snow and let that accumulation help the Switchgrass seeds settle into the ground.
Then right around April 1st it’s recommended to apply 2-4 pounds/quarts to the acre of Atrazine to your initial seeding. This pre-emergence herbicide will keep most annual weeds from sprouting. Another option instead of using Atrazine is to clip the weed canopy when it blocks at least 50% of the sun energy from getting to the new seedling. This may take up to 6 times the first year to allow the Switchgrass to grow unabated. Both of these approaches help the new seedlings establish themselves in the soil so they can overtake the other grasses, such as brome, that already exist. May 5th – 10th you should spray the field with Round-up to kill the brome, and get rid of any competition for the Switchgrass. Frost seeding Switchgrass will give you a good solid stand with the least amount of maintenance, and provide many years of wildlife attracting habitat and provide excellent hunting grounds.


Osenbaugh's Prairie Seed Farms
Nathan Pace- Sales Consultant
800-582-2788 - Office
641-766-6795 - Fax
515-975-1400 - Cell
[email protected]
Prairie Seed Farms


Switchgrass Seed Dormancy issues

Stratification in Switchgrass Seeds

Planting and Wet-chill to break dormancy

Breeding forReduced Post-Harvest Seed Dormancy in Switchgrass

Because of its potential as a renewable biofuels crop, interest<sup> </sup>in the grass is increasing and the land area being planted to<sup> </sup>switchgrass is expanding. However, establishment of desirable<sup> </sup>stands can be a problem because post-harvest seed dormancy causes<sup> </sup>low germination and slow seedling development (Beckman et al., 1993;<sup> </sup>Zarnstorff et al., 1994). Post-harvest dormancy in recently<sup> </sup>harvested seed of some switchgrass cultivars can be as high<sup> </sup>as 95%, and the seed can require up to 2 yr of after-ripening<sup> </sup>to become germinable (Shen et al., 2001). This lengthy after-ripening<sup> </sup>period can be reduced by cold stratifying the seed (Zarnstorff et al., 1994;<sup> </sup>Shen et al., 2001) or treating the seed with different chemicals<sup> </sup>or growth regulators (Haynes et al., 1997; Tischler et al., 1994;<sup> </sup>Zarnstorff et al., 1994). Stratification is the most practical<sup> </sup>approach to break dormancy because it can be accomplished simply<sup> </sup>by planting the seed, provided the soil environmental conditions<sup> </sup>meet the stratification requirements. However, this also can<sup> </sup>be problematic. If switchgrass seed are planted into moist,<sup> </sup>cool soil in the spring, several weeks of stratification are<sup> </sup>required before germination is initiated, but uncontrollable<sup> </sup>environmental events can negatively impact stratification and<sup> </sup>subsequent germination. If seed are planted into a dry soil,<sup> </sup>for example, stratification is initiated only after a rainfall<sup> </sup>event, and the soil temperature must be low enough to chill<sup> </sup>the seed before germination. If it does not rain until late<sup> </sup>spring or early summer, the soil temperatures can be too high<sup> </sup>for stratification to occur, and germination is delayed until<sup> </sup>the temperature and moisture conditions are favorable, which<sup> </sup>may not occur until the following spring.<sup> </sup>
<sup></sup>
Even if the conditions for stratification are met and the seed<sup> </sup>germinate, seedlings emerging in late spring or early summer<sup> </sup>face the prospect of unreliable rainfall, which also can negatively<sup> </sup>impact stand establishment. An approach that can circumvent<sup> </sup>these uncontrollable environmental events is to artificially<sup> </sup>stratify the seed before planting, but this also can be problematic.<sup> </sup>If the seed are artificially stratified but the weather or soil<sup> </sup>conditions are not conducive to planting, the seed must either<sup> </sup>be placed in cold storage or quickly dried to prevent sprouting.<sup> </sup>Unfortunately, drying stratified seed can cause some of them<sup> </sup>to revert back to a dormant state
Other suppliers:

Sharp Brothers Seed

Ernst Seed

Welter seed

Bamert Seed Company

Stock Seed Farms, Inc.

Browning Seed

Turner Seed

Seedland

nannyslayer here on this site carries Cave In Rock switchgrass seed, just send him a PM
 
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strutnrut

Member
Switchgrass does offer a lot of cover but that is all it really has to offer. There is not to much nutritional value to it. If all you want is cover it would be ok. But if you are looking for food and cover I would reconmend Native grasses. CP 25 would be a excellent choice.
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Switchgrass does offer a lot of cover but that is all it really has to offer. There is not to much nutritional value to it. If all you want is cover it would be ok. But if you are looking for food and cover I would reconmend Native grasses. CP 25 would be a excellent choice. </div></div>
I have both plantings and have had for years, however I have found no food to be available in the NWSG mixes. The wildflowers quickly die out leaving only the dominate grasses and Big Bluestem provides no more "food value" then switchgrass. The best thing in ANY wildlife cover is diversity. Plant areas of Switch for cover, NWSG mix for nesting habitat, legumes for brood rearing and deer feed, grain crops for fall and winter habitat.
I can't convey strongly enough this fact...NO deer or pheasants are likely to starve to death...deer are likely to be shot by poachers or leave your property for areas with better cover. Pheasants and quail are far more likely to die of exposure to harsh winter elements and predators, then die for lack of food. Switchgrass is what keeps them both alive thru the winter months when nothing, including CP2 and CP25 mixes are left standing. I have been working with PF chapters for many years to establish the best habitat and while switchgrass is not the ONLY answer, it is one of the most important aspects of upland habitat.
Since I have all of the factors mentioned above, I can tell you firsthand which cover deer prefer, without question and when we have a foot of snow I can tell you where the birds will be.
I can take you to several places in my area...where the ONLY pheasants are in large fields of switchgrass...and while we're flushing the birds...bring your camera...cause your gonna see some bucks too! /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/cool.gif
 

cornfield

New Member
Thanks for the information. I have about 30 pounds of switchgrass and indian grass that I am planting this spring. Very helpful info.
 
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m_kat

Member
Switchgrass comes in a variety of forms, ranging from native ecotypes which barely grow over two feet tall to stuff that grows over eight feet tall and has stems that look like bamboo. Some are very aggressive and some are not. Just know what you are planting before you stick it in the ground. Planting the wrong stuff can cause irreversible damage to surrounding plant communities.
 

iowaqdm

PMA Member
How tall will Cave-In-Rock switchgrass get when mature? Dbltree- Is this what you have planted on your farm?
 

TimberPig

Active Member
The 3 acres of Cave-in-Rock that I planted in '03 is now from 3' to 6'+ (most is on the taller side) and very thick. You can not see the ground when standing in it and it is fabulous cover. It is hard to bird hunt though for that same reason, even with a dog it can be nearly impossible to find a downed bird in that stuff let alone walk in it for extended periods. Much easier to hunt a NWSG mix. Still, I wish I had more switch acres.
CP25 is what I have going in this spring, not entirely by choice. The forbs do seem like a waste of time in the mix. They limit what you can use for herbicides and I dont see how they could survive the competition from the grass for long. The idea of broadcasting some switch into a few of these areas next spring is tempting.
 
R

Renobber

Guest
i got a dog that will find a down bird
i promise i won't mess up your deer hunt lol
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
How tall will Cave-In-Rock switchgrass get when mature? Dbltree- Is this what you have planted on your farm?


I have planted several varieties over the years including Blackwell and Shelter, but Cav-n-rock has done the best for me. I would say it runs from 4-5 ft depending on the quality of ground it's on. Give it some nitrogen and it will get even taller and thicker.

Planting ones' entire farm with it is not the best overall wildlife management effort, but at least 10 acres in the appropriate area's for winter cover will be a huge help.
I have heard all the hype about "mixes"...I've tried them...they have a place in my conservation program, however...switchgrass is KING for providing the very best of the best in prairie cover.
My intention is not to argue with anyone over the merits of any plantings...each landowner must judge for him or herself and decided what their goals are?
I will try to get out and take late winter pictures of both types of plantings and I urge any other posters to share pictures also. It can help others decide what might work best to meet their own goals for optimum wildlife cover.
 
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TimberPig

Active Member
dbltree- I would agree with most everything you have posted. Switch is definately some great cover. I would also agree that I would not plant a huge area of just switch, especially if I were a bird hunter. Some guys I know that only bird hunt have planted straight switch and really regretted it for the reasons I posted. Its just too hard to hunt. That, of course, is what makes it such good cover. As an example, I have an IR thermal imager that is provided by my employer. Not one of the cheasy $300 deer finders, this one is military spec, has a full color LCD screen, and cost over $14K (it's rediculously cool btw!). I have watched deer at night using the imager from a 50' height advantage, and have seen them completely disappear in that stuff. When infrared light can't escape it, that is some pretty impressive cover.

I wonder though about your experiences with snow collapsing NWSG and its ability to rebound. In december we had heavy wet snow like most everybody did, about 8". It flattened my CIR switch, which like you said, came back up after a week or so of melting. Today you cant tell it was ever down. But after reading your posts on this subject I went and looked at a neighbors CP25 planting and it was standing tall as well, as if it had never been snowed on. Is that your experience with NWSG, that it will eventually come back up, or does yours always stay down for the winter once its down?
 
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dbltree

Super Moderator
dbltree- I would agree with most everything you have posted. Switch is definately some great cover. I would also agree that I would not plant a huge area of just switch, especially if I were a bird hunter. Some guys I know that only bird hunt have planted straight switch and really regretted it for the reasons I posted. Its just too hard to hunt. That, of course, is what makes it such good cover. As an example, I have an IR thermal imager that is provided by my employer. Not one of the cheasy $300 deer finders, this one is military spec, has a full color LCD screen, and cost over $14K (it's rediculously cool btw!). I have watched deer at night using the imager from a 50' height advantage, and have seen them completely disappear in that stuff. When infrared light can't escape it, that is some pretty impressive cover.


I wonder though about your experiences with snow collapsing NWSG and its ability to rebound. In december we had heavy wet snow like most everybody did, about 8". It flattened my CIR switch, which like you said, came back up after a week or so of melting. Today you cant tell it was ever down. But after reading your posts on this subject I went and looked at a neighbors CP25 planting and it was standing tall as well, as if it had never been snowed on. Is that your experience with NWSG, that it will eventually come back up, or does yours always stay down for the winter once its down?




That imager sounds awesome! What a cool toy!!

This year the snow was not heavy enough to make my NWSG mix go flat, nor have I seen anyone else's stay down.

It's been maybe 5 years or so...can't just remember, but we had huge drifts and very heavy snow before Christmas because I hunted with my muzzy and could hardly get down the back roads.
That year the snow stayed for awhile and by spring my mix was flat, but my switchgrass was standing tall.

I just ordered some more NWSG mix myself...it's great habitat. I just want everyone that is concerned about providing top quality, year around premium cover, to think about using switchgrass on a portion of their property.

Having your whole farm in switch is not what I'm advocating, but many people have been mislead into thinking that NWSG mix is the ONLY answer. It's certainly much better then brome which IMO is completely worthless.

I know people that have hunted pheasants from mules, because the switchgrass was so hard to walk thru...why did they do that...cause it was loaded with pheasants!!
Mix up your habitat, plant some Mix, some switch and food plots and you will have an awesome conservation/wildlife program going on!!
 
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iowaqdm

PMA Member
dbltree, I have some brome grass that I would like to convert to a bedding area with cave-in-rock switchgrass. I am considering doing it this spring. Wont get any cost sharing. How would you recommend going about it? I want a good stand as fast as I can. Don't want it to take three years if I can avoid it. Would like to avoid having to mow it three times next summer if possible. But I will if it needs to be done. Would you frost seed into the the brome and wait? Mow the brome, after green up spray with round-up, then drill it in or broadcast? Plant a journey ready mix this spring then frost seed switch into it next year? The reason I ask is after reading your first post you talked about drilling or broadcasting in killed sod which would have needed to be sprayed last fall to frost seed this spring. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
dbltree, I have some brome grass that I would like to convert to a bedding area with cave-in-rock switchgrass. I am considering doing it this spring. Wont get any cost sharing. How would you recommend going about it? I want a good stand as fast as I can. Don't want it to take three years if I can avoid it. Would like to avoid having to mow it three times next summer if possible. But I will if it needs to be done. Would you frost seed into the the brome and wait? Mow the brome, after green up spray with round-up, then drill it in or broadcast? Plant a journey ready mix this spring then frost seed switch into it next year? The reason I ask is after reading your first post you talked about drilling or broadcasting in killed sod which would have needed to be sprayed last fall to frost seed this spring. Any suggestions would be appreciated.



Normally it's best to have mowed it last summer and kill it with Roundup in Sept. but I understand your wanting to get started this spring.

I would burn or mow the brome asap....burning would be perfect as mowing would still leave a lot of trash. I've mowed in Feb. many times...so no need to wait.

In your case it would be better to notill drill if you can't burn. Then as soon as the brome get's to greening up good, kill it with Roundup.

If you decide to go with the NWSG mix, go the same route only you may need to add a little more Roundup to the Journey herbicide (it already contains Roundup...but barely enough for what you need)Then plant the switchgrass next winter.

If you plant switchgrass alone, you can have Atrazine aprayed on to help with grass/weed control...can be tank mixed with Roundup. If you have to plant switch later in the spring, you can stratfiy the seed your self ahead of time by soaking in cold water. Other wise the worst that MAY happen is that it may not germinate until next spring.

My preference:
Burn/mow asap
drill switch asap after
Spray with Roundup/Atrazine after greenup (2 qts Atrazine is allowed on CRP...but 4 qts is better!!)



Why do we need to use a herbicide such as atrazine?

Using herbicide will work MUCH better then mowing the first year. Switch seedlings don't like being mowed at all!

Plenty of Atrazine is best...can't put on to much for switchgrass!

Switchgrass is slow to establish and spends the first year growing down rather then up.

Cool season grass and weeds will compete with the new switchgrass seedlings slowing and imepding it's growth. In some cases weeds may evn cause the new switchgrass seeding to fail altogether.

Herbicides help control or eliminate weed competition and speeds switchgrass growth and establishes it in 1-2 years rather then 3-4.

Note: Switchgrass seed and Atrazine are a WHOLE lot cheaper then NWSG mix and Journey!! ;)
 
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iowaqdm

PMA Member
My preference:
Burn/mow asap
drill switch asap after
Spray with Roundup/Atrazine after greenup (2 qts Atrazine is allowed on CRP...but 4 qts is better!!)
Using herbicide will work MUCH better then mowing the first year. Switch seedlings don't like being mowed at all!
Plenty of Atrazine is best...can't put on to much for switchgrass!
Note: Switchgrass seed and Atrazine are a WHOLE lot cheaper then NWSG mix and Journey!!;)



If I drill switch asap after burning/mowing will the switch be germinating when the brome starts to green-up? Will I kill the switch with the Roundup/Atrazine mix? Do I want to fertilize with nitrogen the first year to help with growth/establishment or wait until second year?
 
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dbltree

Super Moderator
If I drill switch asap after burning/mowing will the switch be germinating when the brome starts to green-up? Will I kill the switch with the Roundup/Atrazine mix? Do I want to fertilize with nitrogen the first year to help with growth/establishment or wait until second year?


The switch won't germinate until very late spring as a rule, so hit the brome with Roundup as early as possible in April. Soon as it greens up it should be perfect for a good kill. Don't wait until mid May! Soil temps are the key as switchgrass will start to germinate at about 68-70 degrees soil temp.
I often spray established stands of switchgrass in early spring with Roundup if I get some cool season grasses "sneaking" in. Never had a problem because the switch is still dormant.

Atrazine won't hurt it at all so timing won't matter on that, except that it works best as a pre-emergence herbicide, so should be put on early also. 2-4D works great in late summer for broadleafs rather then mowing also.

If and it's a big if, you have excellent weed/grass control via herbicide then you could put some nitrogen on later in the summer. Ammonium Nitrate would be a good bet because you will lose Urea unless it's put on just a head of a rain. If you don't have good weed control, then forget the nitrogen the first year...it will only encourage the problem.

Here's a few more notes on germination etc.....

REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Switchgrass reproduces both sexually and vegetatively. Rhizomes are
responsible for vegetative expansion, but spreading ability depends upon
growth form. Some rhizomes of sod-forming ecotypes may extend to
lengths of 1 to 2 feet, while those of bunch-forming
ecotypes may extend only a few inches. The primary site of
nonstructural carbohydrate storage is in the stem bases, roots, and
rhizomes.

Switchgrass generally produces abundant seed. Natural stands often yield 100 pounds of seeds per acre , and cultivated stands
may yield 300 to 500 pounds of seeds per acre.

The seeds are shed in fall or winter and require winter dormancy before they germinate in the spring. Germination begins when soil temperatures reach 68 degrees Fahrenheit .

Seed collected from southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming had relatively high germination rates; 70 to 90 percent at temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Fulbright and others reported germinative capacity of 40 to 70 percent.

The importance of switchgrass seedling recruitment into prairie habitats is scarcely discussed in scientific literature. In tallgrass prairie, switchgrass tillering and rhizome production generally begins 5 to 7 weeks after germination, unless competition is severe . Three months after germination, plants may be 12 to 20 inches tall, and roots may be 12 to 30 inches deep.

Table 1
Effect of atrazine on yields of big bluestem and switchgrass during the establishment year.1

Big Bluestem

Without atrazine
680 pounds of yield per acre
Wth atrazine
6400 pounds of yield per acre

Switchgrass

Without atrazine
0 pounds of yield per acre
Wth atrazine
4940 pounds of yield per acre

Time of seeding

Early planting is critical even though warm-season grasses do not germinate when soil temperatures are below 50 to 55 degrees F. Early establishment allows seedings to develop good root systems before summer drought and greatly increases the ability of the grasses to compete with weeds.

Native grass seed typically contains higher percentages of dormant seed than cool-season forages. One way to break dormancy is to chill seeds that have absorbed water. Planting early into cool soil will chill the seed and can cause dormant seed to germinate.

Seeding into warmer soil in late spring can be helpful in controlling weeds. The first flush of weeds is allowed to germinate and then is killed by final tillage or contact herbicide just prior to planting. Ideally, this practice would result in the shortest period of bare ground and would get grass seedlings up as quick as possible to compete with other weeds.

Fertility

While warm-season grasses are good producers on low-fertility soils, adequate P and K will increase stand vigor and production when these elements are low in the soil. Having the soil tested is the only way to know the proper level of P, K and lime to use. Lime is not necessary if soil pH is 5.5 or higher.

Nitrogen is not recommended when establishing warm-season grasses because it leads to increased weed competition. However, established stands will respond positively to 40 to 60 pounds of N per acre. Nitrogen should be applied when early growth is at least 3 to 5 inches tall. Earlier application will favor weeds and invasion of cool-season grasses into the stand.

This link contains info. on how to do the "ragdoll" test to check germination and how to stratify your seed if your unable to plant it early enough to let Mother Nature do it. :)

Planting and Managing Switchgrass

Switchgrass Production
 
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iowaqdm

PMA Member
dbltree, If I burn the brome grass and drill in cave-in-rock switch grass what rate would you spray the roundup/atrazine mixture? Would you spray 2 quarts of roundup mixed with 4 quarts of atrizine per acre after green up? What would the spraying cost be per acre if I hire the elevator (approximately).
 

dbltree

Super Moderator
dbltree, If I burn the brome grass and drill in cave-in-rock switch grass what rate would you spray the roundup/atrazine mixture? Would you spray 2 quarts of roundup mixed with 4 quarts of atrizine per acre after green up? What would the spraying cost be per acre if I hire the elevator (approximately).


I'm just guessing here, but when I have had my corn sprayed in the past (RR corn) and they used a Roundup/Atrazine combo I think it was about $30-35 an acre.

They might not be willing to put on 4 qts either (2 qts is approved on CRP for switch establishment) I had someone buy the Atrazine for me and put it on myself at a rate that would actually be effective.

My second choice would be spray Roundup early and then 2-4D after the switch has 3-4 leaves to kill broadleafs. I've found that the Roundup pretty much wipes out the brome...but broadleafs are just laying there dormant...waiting to spring up, but they are easily killed with 2-4D.

If you hire it done, it will be expensive no matter what you have put on...at least that's what I have found. /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smirk.gif

Here's a great link to the Chariton Valley Biomass project with lots of good info. as well as more great reasons to plant switchgrass /forum/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

Prairie Lands Biomass

First year Switchgrass seeding with no herbicide. No evidence of switchgrass at this point.


Same field 3 years later, no herbicide, weeds clipped in late summer first two years.


Example of switchgrass using Atrazine. This is the first summer. Note the untreated area to the right where it appears there is no switchgrass at all.


This area was planted to switchgrass but none appeared to come up. I planted it to trees and sprayed with Oust and Princep and was surprised to see the switchgrass "spring" up seemingly out of no where!


Most of my original switchgrass was seeded in the late fall on Roundup killed sod using a Truax drill. It was not a no-till drill.


The combination of corn and switchgrass makes for top quality wildlife habitat. Winter long standing cover and food. Makes poaching extremely difficult!


Switchgrass at winters end 2005/2006. Switchgrass in this picture is a mix of Cave In Rock, Trailblazer and Forestburg varieties.


Big Bluestem gone flat by later winter 2005/2006


Big Bluestem in the same field still standing. This is Roundtree Big Bluestem, the previous picture the variety is unknown.


Roundtree B.B. and Rumsey Indiangrass still standing although 2005/2006 winter was a very mild one with little heavy snow.
 
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