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Orchardgrass is an easy, fast growing, perennial grass that is tolerant to shade and cooler temperatures. It does not thrive in hot summer temperatures. The yield of seed will be much lower when it is hot. The grass usually matures in late spring. Orchardgrass grows much better in well-drained soil, but can survive in moist areas, though not when the ground is saturated. Orchardgrass produces a great pasture grass for livestock and other animals.
Prepare a clean seedbed that is free of rocks and weeds. The ground should be firm. Rake the area where you intend to plant the orchardgrass and remove all debris. Use a roller to pack the ground back down before planting. Use 6 pounds of orchardgrass seed per acre of planting. Drag chains can help spread the seed evenly over a larger area. Orchardgrass works well when combined with other seed, such as alfalfa and red clover.
Spread the seed over the seedbed and cover the seed with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Seeds can be planted using a seed drill or a broadcast planter. Both methods produce healthy pastures. Drilling is probably the best method, as it helps the plant fight against erosion and wind.
Fertilize the orchardgrass using a good 20-20-20 fertilizer. Use approximately 50 pounds of fertilizer per acre right after the grass has been planted. Apply 150 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer or manure compost yearly after the seedlings have been established. This fertilizer should be applied in early spring, and then each time you cut the grass. This is usually done twice per growing season.
Harvest the orchardgrass in early spring before the boot stage. This is when the seeds are still inside the seed shaft at the top of the grass. Harvesting while the seeds are still in the grasses will produce a larger and higher quality yield.