Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Planting Rye

I’m always running late, whether it’s for appointments or doing chores. So it should come as no surprise to most folks that I didn’t get my winter rye sown until the first week of this month.
When the summer bermuda dies down, it’s great to have a winter grass take its place. But that rye should have been spread in October or November.
I started on Monday afternoon, December 1, but quickly realized I had a brush as big as Texas to remove first. I should have burned it last year, but let it sit. It was too late in the afternoon to start a burn, because I didn’t want it to smolder overnight unattended. So I spent an hour and a half scooping and piling the woody brush into my tractor bucket and dumping it over the fence. By the time I had finished, it was too dark to spread rye.
Horses enjoy grain, even when the grazing is good.
Next day, I loaded the rye grass into my spreader, read the spreader chart for the rye opening, then took off. I figured it would take about six to eight passes up and down myhilly pasture, but the seed was gone in 40 feet! 
Back I went to Central Seed for more rye.
“What setting did you use on your spreader?” asked Lamar, one of the store’s employees.
“I used the rye setting,” I answered. 
“Which rye setting?”
“There was just one.”
Turns out the "rye" setting on the spreader is for cereal rye, which is much bigger than the seed for grass rye. Who knew?
So I bought another bag of rye seed, enough to cover two acres. I’m not sure how big that section of my pasture is, but I figured that amount would do it. 
By the time I got home with the bag of seed, I had to get ready to leave for an appointment. 
On the third day, I actually spread the rye seed. I set the hopper opening so low that it took repeated passes over the same territory to get it all out. But I didn’t mind. I love being on my tractor, and I was just happy to get the job done. 
When the rye starts coming up in February, I’ll have to spread some nitrogen to fertilize. If I had planted in October  or early November when I should have, perhaps it would have come up earlier. Or perhaps the November frost would have killed the young buds, as happened with a friend’s pasture. 
Sometimes being late turns out to be a blessing.