Orchard Grass

Forage Use: Grazing Dairy, Beef, Horses, Sheep, Haylage, and Dry Hay

Orchardgrass is a perennial, cool-season bunchgrass best suited for fertile, light to medium soils with good drainage. It can persist on moderately poor drained soils. Orchardgrass has good winterhardiness, tolerance to shade and moderate tolerance to drought. It is an excellent choice for pasture, hay, greenchop or silage and is well adapted to grow with legumes such as clover and alfalfa. There is typically a 10 to 20 day spread in heading date between early and late maturing varieties. Use a later heading variety as a companion to alfalfa.

Establishment

Orchardgrass can be planted either in early spring or late summer depending on area of country being grown. Orchardgrass is suited for light to medium soils with good drainage. Seeding depth is generally .25 to .50 inches in a firm seed bed. Rolling or using a cultipacker after seeding ensures even germination and emergence.

Management

Orchardgrass is very responsive to fertilizer and aftermath production can be excellent with proper fertility and split N applications. For optimum 1st harvest yield and quality, orchardgrass should be harvested in early-mid boot stage at a cutting height of 3 to 4 inches so it can recover quickly and persistence can be maintained. For grazing, excellent grazing management is required to maintain  ersistence and productivity. Graze to 3 to 4 inches and rest 28 days in between rotations. Orchardgrass does not persist well under continuous grazing.

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