Many cool-season grasses and legumes can be successfully seeded in either spring or late summer. Alfalfa, red clover, and white clovers are usually most successfully seeded in late winter or spring; however, late summer seedings can be successful if soil moisture is adequate. Late summer and early fall seedings of such crops as alfalfa, fescue, bluegrass, timothy, orchardgrass, ryegrass, and small grains for forages are preferred by many farmers since they enable them to prepare seedbeds during favorable weather conditions and spread the year’s work more evenly. In addition, late summer and early fall seedings have fewer weed problems than spring seedings. Warm-season species are best seeded or sprigged in spring after the threat of frost has passed.

Lack of adequate moisture for germination and emergence is perhaps the major problem with late summer seedings. Cultipacking to get good seed-soil contact is highly desirable. Legume seed might germinate after a small shower of rain and then perish during an extended dry period. One technique to avoid some of the problems associated with dry conditions is to have everything ready to seed but to wait for at least an inch of rain before seeding. Seed as soon after the rain as soil conditions permit. This usually provides enough soil moisture not only to germinate the seed but also to give time for the young, developing roots to grow into moist soil. If rain doesn’t come early enough to get plants established, the seed may be planted the following spring. On rolling land, a light seeding of small grain will protect the soil during the winter and could serve as a mulch for no-till seeding the next spring. For information on seeding rates and dates, see Cooperative Extension publication AGR-18, Grain and Forage Crop Guide for Kentucky.