Bare patches in new grassland sown last autumn may well be the result of ‘frost heave’ and should be partially or completely reseeded, depending on the severity.
Frost heave affected seedlings
So advises Helen Mathieu of British Seed Houses, who says she has witnessed numerous cases of frost damage to new leys following the severe winter.
“This kind of frost damage to new leys is likely to result in irreparable damage to the seedlings,” she explains. “They will either have been snapped off at the roots due to the movement of the soil, or will have withered and died due to a lack of soil contact.
“The first action should be to have a close look at the field and assess the cause of the bare patches. If the problem is due to frost heave then it is unlikely that the bare patches will recover, so overseeding is the best course of action.
Frost heave less evident on headland
“Typically fields will be less affected on the headlands, where consolidation of the seedbed may have been better due to the greater trafficking. In some cases additional rolling may have helped prevent frost heave, but for many the problem has been caused by the extreme conditions over the autumn and winter.
“When overseeding, the most critical issue will be the availability of moisture in the seedbed. Many areas of the country will still be able to achieve a reasonable establishment through May, but others may be better to wait until after first or later silage cuts.”
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