Warm season grasses have a long dormancy period and successful germination and establishment can be the most
difficult part for landowners. It is best to plant seeds less than 1/4 inch deep in the soil, from March to
early May, in a bed free from other plant debris. Exposing 80% of the soil is recommended to allow the seeds
direct contact with warmer soil. Burning can be excellent way to achieve an exposed bed for planting.
Intensive grazing and appropriate herbicide application are also methods used to prepare the seed bed to decrease
existing grass density, increase open space at the ground level, and to stimulate seed germination. If herbicide
applications are required it is critical to carefully follow the recommended application instructions when applying.
Germination rates can also be improved by using a chilling process prior to planting.
With proper care and equipment (e.g. a no-till drill) establishment can be done by an individual landowner, but
without specialized equipment, productive stand can take a couple years to fully establish. The good news is there
are now service companies that use specialized equipment and processes that can help ensure early and successful
establishment. For example, FDC Enterprises http://www.fdcenterprises.com/, a QVM (Quality Vegetation Management)
certified company, has planted over 80,000 acres of warm season grasses on the eastern seaboard. They have a guaranteed
patented process that will establish a productive warm season grass stand in the first year.
Fertilizer and pH
Although warm season grasses are well adapted to grow on marginal soils, some fertilizer and lime applications may
help to increase productivity and yields. Acidity levels between 6.0-6.5 and medium to high levels of P and K are
recommended. Applications of nitrogen during planting are discouraged at the time of planting because it stimulates
competition from weeds.