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Easy Tips on Growing Orchardgrass

Orchardgrass is the kind of forage that is very palatable to horses both as fresh feed and also as hay after harvest. Mature fields of orchardgrass provide hay that may contain levels of protein from 13 to 18 percent. Furthermore, since it makes such a healthy feed, the incidents of colic are lessened.
Some growers of this crop have found that many horse owners will switch over from alfalfa and even timothy because the horses prefer it, and the owners notice positive changes in their animalsí demeanor. Add to this the fact that alfalfa is not only very expensive, but also off balance with respect to the calcium to phosphorus ration, and you can easily discern why orchardgrass is taking the country by storm.

The cost of orchardgrass seed has come down considerably and if you are looking out at your fescue riddled pasture, now is
 the time to reseed! While there is no magic to growing a high quality orchardgrass pasture, there are some simple tips that will help you to maximize your crops.

First and foremost, purchase seeds that belong to an improved variety. Secondly, before seeding, test your soil and get the test results. Then provide the additives to your soil that the tests have indicated it might be lacking. If you are planning to cut your orchard grass for hay, make sure you cut it early enough. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that taller grass will provide a higher yield. While you might have more in the sense of size, the quality of the hay actually goes down if the grass is too stemmy or goes to seed. Some hay producers report that they first cutting is done as early as the middle of May, while the beginning of October sees the fourth cutting.

Obviously the cutting will stimulate the plant to re-grow itself and thus an early cutting will actually provide you will more hay to cut later on. After cutting, replenish the nitrogen in your pasture which will not only help the grass grow more quickly but also influence the protein level. Preparation of the areas where the orchard grass is grown is vital when it comes to reaping a bountiful and healthy harvest, and while this may be a bit costly at the onset, you will be rewarded with sellable hay as well as high quality feed for your horses.

Read the next horse pasture article on How to Buy the Best Hay.
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