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Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Orchardgrass

Species: Orchardgrass

Additional orchardgrass information via the Forage Information System (FIS)

Orchardgrass Fertility

Maintain soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 for best results. In the absence of a soil test, assuming a medium-fertility soil and orchardgrass seeded alone, incorporate 0-45-135 lb. per acre prior to seeding and apply 20-20-20 lb. per acre (banded if possible) at seeding. Top dressings with lime, phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) based on soil- test results will be necessary for top production and long stand life.

If soil fertility is low, a large proportion of the total production of orchardgrass occurs in spring, whereas with proper fertility and split applications of nitrogen, aftermath production may contribute from 35 to 65% of total production. As a comparison, aftermath of timothy with similar management and fertility contributes only about 20% of the total production.

Orchardgrass is responsive to fertilizer, especially nitrogen (N), and becomes very competitive when adequate nutrients are available. Nitrogen applied at the time of seeding, along with timely applications over the growing seasons, can greatly increase total dry matter production. Annual nitrogen applications of 150 pounds per acre are economical. The nitrogen should be applied in split applications of 50 pounds per acre in early spring when the orchardgrass begins to green up and 50 pounds per acre after each cutting.

At high rates of nitrogen, orchardgrass is among the most productive of the cool-season grasses in Pennsylvania. Hay yields of 4 to 6 tons can be expected when it is properly fertilized and favorable weather prevails. Yields are reduced during periods of drought.

Additional and more detailed information on forage fertilization is also available.