STEP 3: Correctly prepare for planting
For optimum results, all forage blends should be planted in a seedbed which has been prepared with the following characteristics:
1.Soil pH should be 6.5 to 7.5:
Some Whitetail Institute forage products will tolerate soil pH lower than 6.5. One example is Imperial Whitetail Extreme, which will tolerate soil pH as low as 5.4. Two others are Imperial No-Plow and Secret Spot, which will tolerate being planted with very little seedbed preparation.
However, note that I said, “tolerate” that means that these products will perform well in lower pH soils, but if you want any forage to perform optimally, soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.
The only way to be absolutely sure that the soil pH of your seedbed is within this optimum range by the time you’re ready to plant is to perform a laboratory soil test, (which we’ll discuss in a later article) and then disk or till any lime recommended in your soil test report thoroughly into the seedbed several months in advance of planting if possible. Be sure you use a soil test kit that sends your soil sample off to a qualified soil testing laboratory; and when you prepare the sample to send, be sure to tell the lab what forage you’ll be planting. That way the lab can precisely tailor its recommendations. High quality soil test kits are available from the county agents; agricultural universities soil and water departments and some farm supply stores. And remember, proper soil pH is the most important factor you can control in assuring a successful planting.
2. Create seedbed free of vegetation.
The main reason you should try to get your seedbed as clean of existing vegetation as possible is so that your forage plants will have as much root space as they need for optimum growth. If you are not able to rid the site of all existing vegetation, that won’t be a “deal killer,” but the more you can remove, the better the forage should perform. Again more to come later on weed control where we will cover the basics of chemical control.