Frost Seeding

— Written By and last updated by Picture of a goat in a pasture
With spring just around the corner, pasture improvements and forages become a priority. Multiple actions can be taken to improve your pasture. This time of year, overseeding/frost seeding is one of the main methods.

What

Overseeding/Frost seeding is the act of casting cool-season forage and legume seed over an established pasture to increase the species stand of that particular forage or legume. This is beneficial to pastures because it increases the desired forage or legume available to livestock, making the pasture more efficient. This increases livestock’s consumption and weight gain on forage, increasing profits.

When

For this particular area, mountains above 2500 ft elevation, overseeding/frostseeding should occur between March 1 through April 30, for optimal germination of seeds. This time period allows seeds to be introduced to the soil through freezing and thawing of snow and frost. This allows seeds to germinate and start growth before other stands of unwanted species giving the beneficial species optimal time to become established.

How

To start this process of pasture improvement, it is helpful for the producer to prepare now so materials and equipment are ready for use during the optimal time window. During this preparation time, producers are advised to do the following:
  1. Purchase desired seed.
  2. If current grass stand is higher than 4 inches, bushhog or cut pastures to allow seed to reach the ground adequately.
  3. Prepare equipment such as tractor and broadcaster.
  4. Schedule a tentative time, during the optimal frost seeding window (March 1 – April 30) to frost seed the pasture.
For more information, contact Michelle South, Area Extension Agent, Agriculture- Livestock at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Mitchell County Center at 828-688-4811a or email Michelle_South@ncsu.edu.