||There has been an increase in the use of warm-season grasses for wildlife habitat in the Northeast. There is an interest in dormant seeding of warm-season grasses to allow for another opportunity during the year to seed and to improve establishment by natural stratification. Lighter and less expensive broadcast pendulum spreaders have been used with some success, allowing for seeding at times not feasible for drilling. A study was conducted at the USDA-NRCS Big Flats Plant Materials Center in Corning, New York, to compare dormant conventionally fall seeded plots, frost seedings with and without oat residue to conventionally seeded spring seedings. The use of oats as a cover crop was investigated to provide warm-season grasses the opportunity for seed soil contact while providing soil erosion protection over winter. The conventionally seeded plots were rototilled; then the seed was hand broadcast, raked, and packed. The plot size was 1.5 x 3.0 meters with four replications. The warm-season grasses included ‘Shelter’ switchgrass, ‘Blaze’ little
bluestem, ‘Niagara’ big bluestem, and ‘Holt’ indiangrass at seeding rates to estimate 43 seeds/1000 cm2. In 2001-2002, the plots were rototilled on 10/19/01. The treatments included a conventional dormant seeding on 10/19/01, and frost or snow seedings surface broadcast on 2/4/02, 3/1/02, and 4/2/02. On 4/2/02, the seed was also broadcast in residue from oats planted on 9/2/01. A conventional spring seeding was conducted on 5/10/02. In 2002-2003, the plots
were rototilled on 10/22/02. The treatments included a conventional dormant seeding on 10/22/02 and frost or snow seedings on 3/4/03, 3/31/03, and 4/7/03 on both bare soil and in residue from oats planted on 9/4/02. Conventional spring seedings were conducted on 4/29/03 and 5/29/03. The 2002 seeding study was evaluated for seedlings/929 cm2 (1ft2) on 10/21/02. The incorporated seeding in May did significantly better than all other treatments with 14.8 seedlings. The dormant seeding on 10/19/01 resulted in fewer seedlings with 2.0 seedlings. The seedings in the oat cover crop resulted in 5.0 seedlings, while those surface broadcast without the oats averaged 3.2 seedlings. The average seedling counts for all of the seeding dates were 7.0, 6.5, 4.0, and 3.4 for the indiangrass, big bluestem, switchgrass, and little bluestem, respectively. The
2003 seeding study was evaluated for seedlings/929 cm2 on 7/14/03. The incorporated seedings on 4/29/03 and 5/29/03 did the best with 8.8 and 21.5 seedlings, respectively. The dormant seeding on 10/22/02 resulted in the fewest seedlings with 1.7 seedlings. The seedings in the oat cover crop averaged 1.9 seedlings, which performed similarly to those surface broadcast without the oats with 2.6 seedlings. The average seedling counts for all of the seeding dates were 7.9, 8.1,
5.4, and 5.1 for the indiangrass, big bluestem, switchgrass, and little bluestem, respectively.In conclusion, spring incorporated seedings had significantly more seedlings than dormant and frost seedings with seedling counts averaged for both years of 15.0 compared to 2.3 for dormant seedings and 2.7 for frost seedings. Dormant seedings were not significantly different from frost seedings for seedling counts. There were no significant differences between
frost seeding dates for seedling counts. Oats did not interfere with frost seedings with an average of 3.4 seedlings with oats and 2.9 seedlings without oats for both years. There were no significant differences for seedling counts between species except for in the spring conventional seedings. All treatments exceeded 1 plant/929 cm2, considered adequate for wildlife habitat but would require more management and weed control to maintain stands or a much higher seeding rate.