Establishing native seed can be a delicate process that differs from traditional crop planting in a number of ways. For those who are newly enrolled in CRP, you might not know what to expect. We regularly receive emails and calls from customers worried that they did something wrong or that the seed isn’t taking.
The answer is almost always the same, they simply need to wait. Establishing any type of CRP takes a lot of patience.
If you’re about to get started in native seed establishment, here is what you can expect.
The First Year of CRP
Establishing native vegetation is a front-heavy process. Once you’ve enrolled in a program and purchased your seed, you’ll need to prepare the field. This will likely involve herbicide application, mowing, and possibly burning the field to remove leftover crop and weeds.
Once the land is ready, it’s time to plant. Native seed requires special equipment that’s properly calibrated. The wrong equipment, or even the wrong settings on the right equipment can result in seed that’s planted incorrectly.
It’s very important that you get the seed planted properly because you won’t be seeing it for a while. In fact, in the first year of CRP, you might not see any actual growth.
It takes time for the seed to germinate and establish a root structure below the soil. That doesn’t mean you just get to sit back and watch it grow, however. Establishment maintenance is crucial.
At the very least, you’ll likely need to mow a few times to control weeds. This needs to be handled strategically. Once weeds and plants reach between 2.5 – 3 feet tall, they should be mowed down to 12 inches. This allows the sun to reach the ground and warm up the soil. Cutting too much off at once, however, can result in the seeds being smothered by clippings.
While conditions can vary, you’ll likely mow 2 or 3 times in the first year. Like we said before, you may not see a lot of growth in the first year. Some seed, like Black-eyed Susans sprout faster. Native grass and forb seed, however, may or may not show until the next year.
The Second and Third Year of CRP
As you head into the second year, you should start to see some real development of your native planting. You’ll still may need to keep the same mowing schedule as year 1, mowing the fields down to 12 inches if weed competition persists.
Once you’ve hit year three, assuming the native vegetation has grown in evenly, you’re pretty well set. Spot mowing may need to be performed in certain areas. Just make sure your state doesn’t have mowing restrictions. After the first two years of establishment, some states limit when you can mow due to their established nesting date period.
It All Starts with the Right Seed
Having patience and following the best practices doesn’t matter if you aren’t using quality seed mixes. The type of seed you’re using plays a large role in successful germination. At All Native Seed, our mixes have been tested and improved upon for over 16 years.
We strive to offer CRP seed mixes with the highest purity and germination rates available. If you’re not sure where to start, our team of CRP professionals are happy to answer your questions. Otherwise, feel free to browse our offerings.
With All Native Seed, you can expect your first three years of establishment to go according to plan.