Our Upstate NY Farm’s Field Crop Manager, James Spear, spent the weekend of February 28-March 1 frost seeding 530 acres of hay and pasture ground at Simply Grazin’ farms 1 through 7 with medium red clover.
Frost seeding involves the surface placement of seed in late winter or early spring. Frost seeding relies on the freeze-thaw cycle and early spring showers to establish quality seed to soil contact. As we approach spring, the soil awakens and actually begins moving up (freeze) and down (thaw). That up and down movement causes tiny little cracks, which ultimately suck in the small and hardy seeds.
Frost seeding lets nature do your dirty work. It essentially works the seed into the soil, eliminating the need for dragging. Because of this, frost seeding is an economical, effective way to improve the quality and quantity of pastures and is one of the most cost effective and energy efficient seeding methods.
Due to the unpredictable weather in late winter and early spring, the timing can certainly vary year-to-year, but as a general rule of thumb, the best time to frost seed is when there are approximately four to five expected remaining frosts. Clover seed is very hardy so it can withstand the potential to rot much better than other larger, less hardy seeds. Thus, it’s common to spread the seed over the top of a thin layer of melting snow.