The Beauty of Compromise - With Blends
Compromise happens everywhere in life from picking where to have dinner to how long you want to stay at the in-law's place. Compromises also happen in cover crop and forage blends...
While it may seem great to plant the full rate of everything in a mix to get as much in as possible, that often is not realistic agronomically or economically. Creating a balance of rates in a blend will ensure that nothing competes and everything shows up. This is especially important in pasture blends when it comes to that desired ratio of grasses and legumes. For cover crop and forage blends, we like to use our Cover Crop Calculator to put together a mix for you based on rate or budget needs to get the best of both worlds. Contact the office or your dealer for them to put one together for you! (Here are some guidelines for cover crop planting rates)
In general, large seeds are happier planted deeper and small seeds prefer to be kept shallower. In a blend of various species this can be difficult. The answer is compromise. In a blend planted too deep, only the larger seeded plants will establish. Planted to shallow, a stand will only consist of the smaller seeded plants. We like to pick a mid-range depth based off of what is in the mix. This ensures that everyone will show up to the party. (Check out our Perennial seed depth tool and annual seed depth tool)
When to seed and when to terminate are two very important questions when making decisions about your blends. With blends that are all cool season or all warm season, the timing of planting is generally unanimous and no compromise is needed. For blends with both, you have to find mid-ground. Deciding when to terminate a cover crop or forage blend may take more discussion. Do you terminate when the grass components are young and lush so that they break down quickly? Or do you let the blend continue to grow so that the legume component can fix you as much nitrogen as possible? Again, a balance is best. In the case of crops like cereal rye, you have to look at forage quality and tonnage when deciding termination timing.
The answer to most questions when balancing these compromises is usually is “it depends.” Stay true to the goals of your cover crop or forage blend and you can achieve the balance that is right for your operation.