If spring-sown, summer forage crops are part of your feed plan for the season ahead, it’s time to think about picking the paddocks to sow.
That way, when the time comes to get seed into the ground, you’re all set to go.
The most obvious paddocks to choose are those in annual ryegrass. But if you need more paddocks, there are two things to look at.
First, pastures damaged by pugging or treading during winter, or those used as sacrifice stand-off areas.
Putting paddocks through a summer crop gives you a chance to repair them (and grow much more DM than you would if you left them untouched) before fully renovating them with new pasture in autumn.
Second, it’s a good idea to assess the state of all your paddocks before spring. For example, many farms have pastures which suffered in the dry conditions earlier this year.
These will stand out due to their poor regrowth and high weed content, and a summer crop is again a great way to start restoring their long-term productivity.
Like paddocks which suffered during winter, left as they are, they won’t grow the amount of pasture DM this season you would normally expect, so a summer crop also improves your feed supply.
In choosing these summer crop paddocks, don’t forget to think about what your animals will need, as good water is important, and shelter if possible.
Regardless of what crop you’re sowing, soil fertility and pH have a big influence on yield, so get these tested early, to give you time to apply fertiliser and/or lime if necessary. Don’t forget to check for problem weeds that might need spraying, either.