What to Expect the First Year

Less-experienced growers are almost always convinced they have a failure in the first year; however, most of the time it is actually a good stand. Patience must be a part of the planter's arsenal!

Prairie grasses grow down, not up, during the establishment year. The top growth normally amounts to a narrow, pale green, straight leaf until late in the summer. These seedlings can be hard to see even for the experienced grower.

Weeds are often the greatest cause of poor stands because they challenge the small seedlings in two ways - they take away necessary water and nutrients, and they shade and smother the young plants. Mowing or shredding weeds often the first year is important to prevent the seedlings from being choked or smothered. Keep mower blade as high as possible to let prairie grass seedlings to continue uninterrupted growth and keep weeds from going to seed. Once grass reaches the 4-leaf stage, 2, 4-D can be applied, but do not use this herbicide in a seeding that includes wildflowers. Care must be taken to apply labeled rates, as small seedlings can be burned and set back with overapplication, especially on warm days (over 75 degrees). Check the stand in the fall by looking for small clumps of plants that have a yellow or red cast.