Farm and Field

Freeze, thaw cycle aids in seeding legumes over thinning pastures

Posted: Feb. 16, 2020 12:01 am

Frequent freezing and thawing helps farmers overseed weakened pastures with natural fluctuations in soil helping work broadcast seed into thinned grass stands.

"It's no-till help," University of Missouri Extension forage specialist Craig Roberts said.

Thin stands of grass caused by summer weather, overgrazing or other reasons can be rebuilt. Broadcast seeds are even helped by melting snow.

End-of-winter seeding improves pastures by adding legumes -- a high-protein forage -- to fill thin spots. That's better than overseeding more grass, Roberts said.

"Don't wait for spring to plant," Roberts said. "Get seed on early to gain growing time when spring returns."

Tiny, hard-coated legume seeds remain viable in cold. They don't sprout until warm weather arrives.

Legumes reinforce grass pastures by adding needed nutrients for livestock. Legume dilution helps especially in fescue. Adding new forage dilutes toxicosis from Kentucky 31 tall fescue.

Legumes in a beef calf diet can add an extra quarter pound of gain per day.

In addition, legumes help cow reproduction and lactation. Another benefit is that legumes fix nitrogen from the air to add to the soil.

Many legumes work in pastures, including white and red clover and lespedeza. All are popular in Missouri.

Overseeding works well in thinning stands but helps all grass stands. At planting, make sure seeds reach the soil surface. Too much thatch blocks contact. If not touching ground, seeds can't sprout and put down roots.

Roberts recommends seeding rates of 1/4 pound per acre for ladino clover, 8 pounds for red clover and 20 pounds of annual lespedeza.

IPT bull sale

Commercial cow-calf producers and seedstock breeders interested in buying a total performance tested bull will want to attend the 2020 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale.

The sale -- set for 11 a.m. Thursday in the Livestock Center on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield -- will be the leadoff event of the Illinois Beef Expo.

There are 56 bulls cataloged with 24 being longer-aged 2018 mature bulls and 32 yearlings.

The 2020 edition will be the 52nd annual sale with 4,788 bulls valued at over $8.8 million sold across all previous sales, according to IPT Bull Sale Manager Travis Meteer.

The sale order will be based on a power score system utilizing the economic indexes provided by the breed associations.

Along with strict requirements for superior expected progeny differences, or EPDs, bulls must meet some of the most rigorous requirements in the industry. "These bulls don't just have to pass the test. They have to pass every test," Meteer said.

The sale catalog and supporting information -- including all pedigree information, adjusted weights, power scores and EPDs on seven different traits and two dollar value indexes -- can be found online at

More information on the sale or bulls consigned is available by contacting Meteer at 217-430-7030 or