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Hi all,

My family owns a 25 acre horse farm in NJ, and I have about 5 acres that I'd like to try harvesting for hay, with the idea that if it goes well, I may (their son) purchase a property and increase production. There are two small pastures that were planted with orchardgrass some years ago. I just took a close look at them, and they appear to be about half and half orchardgrass and tall fescue at this point, and another 5-10% weeds/unknown species. We have a JD 5310 (55 PTO hp), a finish mower, and a broadcast spreader, and I figure I would spend a few thousand on some old equipment (haybine, rollabar rake, small square baler) to get started. I am a capable mechanic, so not afraid of dealing with some old equipment.

Is this mix as it stands worth trying to harvest next year? We feed our horses mostly orchardgrass in the winters now, and they have very good forage in the warm months. Should I try anything this fall to increase the orchardgrass content of these pastures? I intend to send some soil samples in to the ag extension (we have done this for all the grazing pastures, and apply pelletized lime, NPK, accordingly). Maybe overseeding before everything freezes solid?

The pastures were left to grow pretty long this year, only mowed once or twice, to I plan on mowing them with the finish mower to about 6-8" sometime soon so they aren't really shaggy come spring. Is this the right move? Could I broadcast seed some orchardgrass after that, or is that a waste of time, and I should rent and overseeder?

Thanks.
 

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JD 7320, NH7230, Krone 5.52T, Krone 42T, JD 348, MXU 110, Farmall 656, Farmall H, Esch 5607
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Seeding for orchard or tall fescue at this time of year year would be a waste of money. The time for overseeding or new seeding would be mid September in the mid-Atlantic area. OG needs good seed to soil contact and is best drilled in at a 1/4 inch. Address weed issues in spring/summer and see what happens with it after fertilizing.
 

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We've had very good luck just broadcasting orchard grass and it taking. Do it in the spring before a good rain. The weeds will die off the more you cut it. You shouldn't have any issue with your tractor running the hay equipment. I have the same tractor and it does just fine.
 

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I am guessing early March is your spring plant date, September 1 for fall. Depends on rainfall as to which will work best for you. typically from Va up the east coast fall seeding is best but if you do get timely rain, the seed just sits. If you weeds are mostly winter annuals the best time to go after them is about the 10th of October but if you are spraying in October don’t waste money with overseeding that fall.
 
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