switchgrass/bluestem

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goldtip5575
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switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby goldtip5575 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:27 am

Anyone ever plant switchgrass or big bluestem?We planted both in early april after we burned in late march and sprayed roundup 5 day after planting(broadcast).To me it looks like nothing but weeds are growing so far.But then Im not sure what switchgrass or bluestem seedlings look like or even if we should be seeing alot of growth by now.I was told to be patient with it as a field of weeds one year will turn out fine the next year.Any input or advice would be great.Southeast WI if location matters.


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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby DEERSLAYER » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:30 pm

goldtip5575 wrote:Anyone ever plant switchgrass or big bluestem?We planted both in early april after we burned in late march and sprayed roundup 5 day after planting(broadcast).To me it looks like nothing but weeds are growing so far.But then Im not sure what switchgrass or bluestem seedlings look like or even if we should be seeing alot of growth by now.I was told to be patient with it as a field of weeds one year will turn out fine the next year.Any input or advice would be great.Southeast WI if location matters.


I hate to be the bearer of bad news goldtip5575, but a field of weeds one year will be many more weeds the next year. However, there may still be hope. If you can get some Atrazine on it you stand a good chance of seeing the Switchgrass make it and maybe the Big Bluestem too. There are a couple of other possible herbicides you can use depending on what weeds you have. It's best to check with your local county extension office for options. They know the weeds in your area and will know what is best thing to do. Mowing may also work.

You started off on the right foot with the burning, but then what you needed to do was to wait for the weeds to grow to about 6" tall and spray the roundup. Then 4-6 weeks later go out and spray it again to get anything you missed the first time and any new growth. Then come the last week of September (for your area) hit it one more time with round up. At this point you will finally have the kind off weed control you need to plant.

Come about the third week of November (again... for your area) you broadcast your seed at the recommended rate. Now mother nature will take care of the rest. Winter and spring will break down the hard seed coat as well as "plant" your seed for you at the perfect depth by using the freezing and thawing action of the ground.

I hope it all works out for you.
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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby 3dog » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:28 pm

Nice tips Deerslayer, I may have to try that this next year. Goldtip, I just planted a mixture of Bigbluestem, Indian grass and switchgrass the weekend before memorial. I've been up to look at it twice since and see some glass coming but, like you, a lot of weeds too. As for telling what's what, grass will always come up looking like a blade (there will be no broadleaf). I don't know what switch or big blue looks like either but if I find a small bladed shoot coming out of the ground and it's root is close to the surface there's good odds it's the stuff I planted. Good luck with your plot!
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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby 3dog » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:36 pm

Almost forgot, pulled this off the site I bought the seed from:

*** The most important step is to spray the planting site with a combination of Round-Up (glyphosate) and Plateau herbicides.
*** Round-Up will kill any weeds growing on the site and Plateau is a herbicide specially designed for native grass plantings. It works as a residual and will curtail later weed competition. Be sure to keep your application of Plateau at UNDER 4 oz PER ACRE AND WAIT 10 DAYS AFTER HERBICIDE APPLICATION BEFORE PLANTING! This herbicide application is extremely important for getting your grass stand established quickly. Other planting methods such as broadcasting can be used however other additional steps will be needed. This seed is very fluffy and difficult to broadcast but it can be done. When broadcasting you will need to use 1 ½ to 2 times the amount of seed per acre. You will also need to work the ground with a disc or other tillage tool, lightly drag the seedbed after broadcasting and use a culti-packer to firmly press the seed into the soil for good seed-soil contact.

Maintenance – It is not necessary to fertilize these grasses. If weeds become too bad during the year of planting, it is advisable to mow the field with the mower set no lower than 12”. These grasses respond well to fire. If possible, it is advisable to burn off the site about every third year in the early spring before green up. Fire not only stimulates these grasses but also sets back weed competition and kills woody sprouts and seedlings. With regular burnings these grass stands can last for decades. Keep this in mind when planning your planting. In many situations it is a good idea to plant a firebreak around the edge of fields planted to these grasses. RWWS Clover & Chicory blend makes a good firebreak and also offers the deer a place to feed just outside their bedding sanctuary.
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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby Mike » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:20 pm

I planted a few acres of switch this year, frost seeded most of it and hit it with simazine as a pre-emergent. It appears to just be starting to pop a little, if you didn't use any herbicide besides roundup you are gonna need to mow your weeds to control them.

Last year I did switch and I thought it was a bust, but by july it started to grow like crazy, and got waist high or so. This year it is coming up with vengeance and is waist high already, I'm hoping for 6' this year.

iowawhitetail.com has some great info on grasses
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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby lungbuster » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:47 pm

Planted about 4 acres of Cave in Rock switchgrass in April, you need to mow it to 6" the first year to keep the weeds at bay, switchgrass is a very tough seed to establish but if you control the weeds through mowing the first year and atrazine the second you should get a good feild established. Just remember you won't see much production the first year because it establishes it's root system the first year.

As for weeds, you're gonna get weeds no matter what you do with a slow growing crop, just keep it maintained through mowing so the weeds don't canopy and shade out the SW.
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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby Mike » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:14 pm

LB, did you spray atrazine? I got excellent establishment my first year, 4 foot on my cave in rock the first year with simazine (which is very similar to atrazine, just not restricted) No mowing needed at all. Its waist high already this year and should get 5-6ft by fall, west central WI.
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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby muddy » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:22 am

I'll second iowawhtietail.com having some great habitat discussions. Our moderator dbltree is amazing in his knowledge of everything deer habitat related. Here's a link, then go into "Dbltrees Corner" to find what you need. If you have any questions post away, he works from home and gets back very quickly.

http://iowawhitetail.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=26
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Re: switchgrass/bluestem

Unread postby DEERSLAYER » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:43 am

Mike wrote:LB, did you spray atrazine? I got excellent establishment my first year, 4 foot on my cave in rock the first year with simazine (which is very similar to atrazine, just not restricted) No mowing needed at all. Its waist high already this year and should get 5-6ft by fall, west central WI.


Mike, did you fertilize with some nitrogen? You had some good growth right out of the gate. That kind of growth typically comes when nitrogen is included in the fertilizer mix. Something most recommend against because the average guy fails to take the proper steps to control weeds. Most people just don't seem to realize it's extremely import with warm season natives like switch to have excellent weed control. However (as you already know) with good weed control Switchgrass can be established quickly. If you did't add nitrogen or have it readily available in the soil from another source (such as a previous crop like legumes) then you are truly blessed with some good soil.

I normally think mowing for weed control is just fine, but when it comes to switch I generally pushed hard to get my clients to use chemical weed control. I was almost always dealing with people who had cheap hunting land with very poor soil so it was extra difficult to get the switch to compete with weeds when young. Fortunately switchgrass will grow well in some pretty poor soil.

I also wanted to mention here that any of you that can't or don't want to manage switch by burning can use disking as an alternative option. You don't get the sudden release of nutrients that give you plants a nice boost, but on the bright side you don't have some of those nutrients literally go up in smoke like when you do a burn. So don't avoid planting switchgrass because you don't want to manage by fire. It's an awesome plant to create sanctuaries in high pressure area's.
You cannot invade mainland America. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.
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