The best time to plant your CRP seed can vary depending on a number of factors including your location, the Conservation Practice you’re enrolled in, the seed you’re establishing, and more. It’s important to plant your seed at the correct time, or it may fail to properly germinate and grow.
Different seeds have different requirements for germination. For example, native warm season grasses (NWSG) need temperatures to be above 65 degrees to germinate, with optimal temperatures being above 75 degrees.
Cool-season grasses can germinate in ground as cold as 35 degrees, but they also require more moisture than NWSG.
Of course, many farmers choose to plant their seed during a time when it won’t immediately germinate. This is called dormant seeding.
Dormant Seeding for CRP
Dormant seeding, also known as fall seeding, is when you plant your seed right as fall begins to turn to winter. This is often best done after November 1st, though it may be possible in the last weeks of October for more northern locations.
When the seed is planted in the cold ground, it goes into the ground in its dormant state. It remains in this state throughout the winter. As the spring comes and the ground warms, nature takes its course and the seeds begin to germinate.
The germination process is further helped by the presence of spring rain and melting snow, providing ample moisture.
The key to dormant seeding is to make sure the ground is cold enough when it’s planted. Otherwise, seed may begin to germinate, only to be halted once the ground freezes. Warm season vegetation is generally safer for dormant seeding, since it requires fairly warm soil for germination.
However, cool-season grasses can still be established with dormant seeding.
Spring Seeding for CRP
An alternative to dormant seeding is to plant your seed when soil is optimal for germination. This is called spring seeding, though it can also be done in the summer. The exact timing depends on what you’re establishing.
For cool-season grasses, the best time is late winter to early spring or late summer to early fall. Because these plants can germinate in cooler ground, need more moisture, and struggle under extreme heat, they’re best planted in mild temperatures.
For warm-season grasses, you can wait until the ground is consistently warm as long as there is sufficient moisture. In most locations early May through the end of June is optimal. Planting can even be extended into July, again as long as there is enough moisture in the soil.
Deciding What’s Right for You
The best time to seed for CRP can greatly depend on where you live. Dormant seeding can offer the advantage of getting your seed planted and not having to worry about it much the following year except for weed control.
However, for those who live in areas with inconsistent or overly warm winters, dormant seeding can prove difficult. If temperatures rise too much, seed can begin to germinate. If the ground then freezes again, the seed can die.
It’s important to be strategic. Of course, it’s also important to have high-quality CRP seed. Otherwise, it won’t matter what time of year you plant it.
At All Native Seed, we provide a variety of quality CRP seed mixes that have been processed for more consistent planting rates and also checked for Palmer amaranth. Click here to find a seed mix for your CP. We can also provide quality seed for mixes designed by NRCS. Click here for a quote.
If you have any additional questions about what seed you need or when you should plant it, our team of CRP experts is here for you. Give us a call at 888-224-2004 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.