April 2014

April 2014

The Cat’s Out of the Bag!

We’ve got an exciting new variety available this coming harvest - Lynx Winter Field Pea. Lynx has better cold tolerance, excellent palatability, and improved disease resistance. It is a clear-coated, smooth green pea that produces white flowers.

These characteristics are particularly significant for attracting wildlife. Clear-coated, white flower pea plants have been shown to be more palatable than purple flowering pea plants because they are tannin-free, making the plants sugar-sweet, not bitter. Lynx Winter Pea is a semi-leafless variety with short internodes.

For the cover crop market, Lynx Winter Pea offers improved winter hardiness, meaning longer production of biomass, roots, nodulation, and nitrogen.

Three ways to learn more: Read the attached Tech Sheet, visit LynxPea.com, and/or contact your Smith Seed Services Representative.

Annual Ryegrass Has Its Limitations

Tens of millions of pounds of annual ryegrass are used every fall to overseed warm-season pastures, resulting in millions of tons of forage feed consumed directly on-site or eaten off-site in some form of bailed hay or silage. This feed makes meat and milk. Lot and lots of it, which feeds and nourishes millions of people, from newborn babies to the elderly. It’s rather an amazing process, isn’t it? All from those tiny annual ryegrass seeds!

Yet these seeds are very limited in what they can do for themselves. In fact a fair amount of them never live up to their full potential. Some of them don’t even get through their first winter. Others turn into puny and weak plants. Still others only live to half of their potential. The reason? Poor soil fertility and nutrient management. You see, ryegrass is one of the most demanding of all grasses. It must have food, and lots of it. It is a ‘nitrogen pig’, insisting on being fed from its initial birth throughout its entire growing season. Its not interested in storing food. Rather, it wants to consume as many nutrients, especially nitrogen, as possible and convert those foods into leafy material. if that food isn’t available in a ready-to-consume form, it will turn all sorts of ugly colors, shrink in size and refuse to grow.

When baby’s fed, everyone’s happy. This demanding attitude starts early - an important fact for those who think they can wait till spring to feed ryegrass. When planted without proper fertilizer or into low pH soils, these little guys are in trouble from the start. Little or no phosphorus? Expect poor establishment and initial root growth. Little or no accessible nitrogen? Expect spotty fields and weak plants going into winter. Weak winter plants? Expect cold damage, and greater susceptibility to weed infestation, as well as insect and disease damage. Also expect less of a return from your spring fertilizer applications because these little plants have less of a root system to uptake nutrients. SO MUCH POTENTIAL LOST!

What can the little ryegrass seeds do about all of this? Nothing. They are subject to the environment they are planted in. That’s why as we sell and promote improved forage grasses, we need to also promote and encourage improved soil and nutrient management. Encourage your sales staff and your customers to learn more and talk more about proper soil nutrition. It’s a sure way to help overcome unnecessary limitations for annual ryegrass, as well as other forage and turf crops