too early to frost seed?


New Member
I usually wait until late march to frost seed clover. Right now all the snow is gone, tomorrow - lots of rain in the 60's. Next week or so nights are below freezing days above. But it is still Feb and who know what the next 4 weeks have in store ( in New York). Contemplating frost seeding tomorrow, kids schedule is busy and don't know how easy it will be to get back to property in March. Thoughts?
Wondering around our place today I thought about the same thing. Unfortunately, it's so wet/muddy, I'm not real excited about it. I'm going to wait a bit.
I frost seeded @16 acres of switchgrass in early February here in Northern Indiana, only to have 60-70 degree temperatures for the last week. Today we set a record high of 71, tomorrow the temp drops to 30. If we get the top inch or so of soil to freeze over, I hope to frost seed a couple of acres of Ladino clover before this crazy weather swings wildly again.
In a typical transition from midwinter to early spring, I'd say frost seed anytime between the beginning of February and early March. Natural seeding knows no timing! The seed falls to the ground when it's ready. Then it waits for the right conditions to germinate. The good and the bad thing about clover seed it it has a VERY hard seed coat. So hard, that commercially processed seed is scarified in the cleaning process. That just means the seed coat is nicked, scratched, or broken (it's not a very precise process) so that some of it germinates after you buy it! Without out this, some clovers will sit in the ground for months and/or years.

Point being, it takes a while for Mother Nature to get the seed ready to grow. Freezing and thawing not only produces action to get the seed into the soil, it also is responsible for doing some coat cracking. This cracking will allow moisture to get to the germplasm and that's what starts the process. If you look at your seed tag, you'll see that a percentage of seed is hard seed. That stuff will lay in the ground a long time before it even thinks of growing.

But, the risk I think all of you have identified. If the clover germinates, the conditions for growth had better remain favorable. There's no going back! A seedling has a short root and if the soil around the root freezes for a long time (I don't know what I mean by that. There is science for it). it will die of thirst.

I talk a lot about philosophy. Mine here is, "seed in a bag isn't doing anybody or anything any good!" Strike when you can!