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Forage Grass Mix Recommendations Please Tennessee Cumberland Plateau Zone 7B

 
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Hello,
We have bush hogged about 30 acres of small saplings, brambles and blackberries on a once productive tomato farm. We would like to have year round grass that doesnt need to be re sown every year and would like Cows, sheep and chickens to be rotated year round. We plan on eventually having an orchard with veggies and herbs between the trees and the herbivores grazing through the center. We are just outside of Chattanooga on the Cumberland Plateau at about 1700ft in zone 7b we have well draining soil that needs a lot of work. We get around 48 inches of rain per year with dry spells.

Looking through the forums and books we believe we need 4 types. 1.N-fixers, 2.Drymass, 3.Pest control/medicine, 4.Aerating roots.

Does anyone have a good recommendation or this type of grass/forage mix that doesn´t need to be resown each year?

Thank you,



 
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I would look at what native grasses are grown in your area and for perennial native grass.

I have read that Kentucky Bluegrass and Bermuda are grown in Tennessee.

Your local feed and seed store will probably know what is best for your area and they will probably have a seed mix.
 
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Local feed store is definitely a good option, as they know the local conditions.
I would also check out https://greencover.com/
I have bought from them and their seeds are great quality. They will make custom blends, and I believe you can ask them for advice as well, they might do free consultations if you buy a mix.
 
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Hello Angela,  How hot does it get there in the summer?   I am west of you in the Ozarks but get less rain.   The problem with the generic 'best' pasture mix-orchardgrass and clover-is that both are cool season plants that go dormant,  or mostly so, in hot weather.  Over here I would be up a creek without bermuda.  As the climate gets warmer  and  warmer the little patches of bermuda have significantly increased in size.  I don't know about native Eastern grasses, but over here, our natives are prairie grasses that evolved with buffalo....AND...they only got grazed a couple times a year, grazed to the ground by the massive herds of bison. Grasses were very deep rooted, IF there was deep soil.  But, if the native grasses are grazed, even rotationally grazed, the roots get shorter and shorter, and the grass can be grazed completely out of a pasture.

If you get fescue, be sure to get the endophyte free types.

The first thing I would do is observe what comes up next year.  I'd be surprised if you didn't have fescue and bluegrass and bermuda.  You might consider a few goats if you have lots of brush coming up, and fences will keep them in.  Keeping the brush down will let the grasses get light to grow.

I'd be surprised if you didn't have chickory and plantain and chickweed and lambsquarters and some type of clover,  plus lots more.

Another thing to consider, do you get snow, and how long does it stay on the ground?

Lots to think  about but I  suspect that Mother Nature's got your back!  You may spend a fortune on seeds for next spring and find all sorts of good stuff sprouting in your pastures before then!

Good luck! Lisa
 
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Also consider how deep the roots are.  Big blue stem has very deep roots, if it will grow there.

Someone mentioned cool and warm season grasses.  I think big blue stem is a warm season grass.

Deep roots on some plants help all the plants survive, mining moisture and minerals.  And as we know, live roots feed soil organisms.

If you don’t have both cool and warm season plants, then you get less grass.  For example, orchard grass is a cool season grass, it grows in spring and fall, but does not grow in (hot) summer.  Other plants can be actively growing while orchard grass takes a time out!

I agree that you will also have more productive pasture, and healthier animals, if you have forbes too.  Chicory is one I favor, and there are others.  I had daikon radish growing in the pasture and the goats ate the tops in the summer, and the radishes in the winter.

Just a little something else to know when you’re designing pasture mix is the two photosynthetic pathways, referred to as C-3 the most common, the three refers to the fact that 3 carbons are fixed per ‘round’.  The C-4 fix one additional carbon per cycle

Here’s a good intro if you’re new to the idea https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_C4_plants.  One thing I learned from it is that while only 3% of plants use C-4 pathway, 23% of food crops are C-4.  Sugar cane and corn are a couple…,

And there’s a fabulous family owned business “green cover seed” that makes custom mixes especially designed to meet your objectives and suited to your conditions.  Years ago one of the owners gave a presentation at a conference I attended.  The extent of his knowledge was astonishing.

https://greencover.com/

And green cover seeds has an online mix calculator, “smart mix”, that is free to use, whether or not you buy from them.

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