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Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Kentucky Bluegrass

Species: Kentucky Bluegrass

Additional tall fescue information via the Forage Information System (FIS)

Kentucky Bluegrass Establishment

Very few fields in the Northeast are sown with Kentucky bluegrass seed. However, Kentucky bluegrass generally appears in these fields, coming from seed or rhizomes in the soil, particularly if the field was previously a pasture. If Kentucky bluegrass is to be planted, it should be done at 10 to 14 pounds per acre in late summer or early fall when temperatures begin to moderate and rains are more frequent. Higher seeding rates ensure quicker ground cover. Kentucky bluegrass is slightly slower to establish than many other cool-season grasses. This is primarily a result of slow (approximately 14 days) germination. However, once established it spreads quickly via its extensive rhizome production. Kentucky bluegrass's nitrogen requirements and low summer production make it ideal for seeding with a legume such as white clover at 4 pounds per acre, red clover at 6 pounds per acre, or birdsfoot trefoil at 8 pounds per acre. Legumes in mixture with Kentucky bluegrass also improves the nutritional value of the pasture compared with pure grass pastures. Tall-growing grasses such as orchardgrass, timothy, smooth bromegrass, or tall fescue may also be included in a pasture seeding mixture with Kentucky bluegrass where hay or silage harvests will be made each year before grazing begins. The tall-growing grasses typically thin over time and require reseeding while the Kentucky bluegrass will persist indefinitely.

Kentucky bluegrass can be "frost seeded" (in early spring when the soil is still honeycombed with frost) into existing pastures to thicken the stand. Successful seeding requires good seed-to-soil contact. This can be accomplished with frost seeding by seeding into a field with a thin stand of existing plants or where the pasture was grazed "into the ground" the previous fall. Greatest success is generally achieved when frost seeding is completed while the soil contains frost. Delaying seeding until mid-morning when the soil has become slippery on the surface will result in poorer stand establishment.

Seeding Kentucky bluegrass alone or in a mixtures into a conventionally prepared seedbed or no-till seeding can also be an excellent method of establishment. Do not plant deeper than 1/4 inch when seeding. Press wheels or cultipacking used in conjunction with or after band seeding will improve the seed-soil contact and the chances of obtaining a good stand. To obtain a proper seeding depth, the seedbed should be firm. This can be accomplished by cultipacking before seeding.