Warm Season Planting Guide

As the time to plant warm season forages approaches, it’s time to start thinking about the specifics of planting these annuals. Having proper soil temperature, seedbed preparation, seed depth, seeding rate and fertility is important!

 

Soil Temperature - 

       We have already gone into why you should not plant warm season annuals too early, so when should you plant? Soil temperatures need to be at a minimum of 60 degrees and rising. Meaning you should check your soil temperatures at the coldest part of the day and it needs to be at least 60 degrees.

Seeding Depth - 

       The importance of accurate seeding depth tends to be overlooked with warm season annuals. For the most part, treat it as important as your corn seeding depth! Proper depths are as follows:

                    Forage Sorghum, Sorghum Sudangrass, Sudangrass, and Cowpeas = 1”-1 ½”

                    Millet = ½”-¾”

                    Teff = 1/8"

                    Summer Blend and Warm Season Combo = ½”-¾”

Seedbed - 

       Similarly to seeding depth, the seedbed should be prepared the same way as your corn. A firm, but tilthy soil will provide the best environment for warm seasons to establish. For some farms this may include tillage to prepare the seedbed, or a really good no-till drill can also do the trick. The key is making sure to create a strip of loosened soil for the new seedlings to get started.

Seeding Rate - 

       Depending on your use of the warm season annual, seeding rates can vary from a set range. In most cases, a higher seeding rate will give you a thinner stem on warm season grasses and a lower seeding rate will increase the stalk size. Also, these rates will be lower when combined in a blend. The ranges we recommend for warm season planted alone are listed below:

                    Forage Sorghum = 5-9 lbs per acre

                    Sorghum Sudangrass = 20-25 lbs per acre

                    Sudangrass = 35-45 lbs per acre

                    Millet = 15-25 lbs per acre

                    Teff = 5-7 lbs per acre

                    Summer Blend = 20-25 lbs per acre

                    Warm Season Combo = 20-25 lbs per acre

Fertility - 

        Decisions for fertilizing should generally be based on a soil test. Without a soil test, a recommendation for a multi-cut crop would be a balanced fertilizer applying 30-40 units of actual nitrogen per cutting. For a single harvest crop, like forage sorghum, we would recommend 80-100 units of actual N applied at planting. This includes all forms of nitrogen such as soil available nitrogen, any N additions from previous crops, and manure applied. 

Feel free to contact the office with any additional questions on warm season planting!