Establishing Native Grasses and Forbs for CRP – Part 1: Seed Quality and Purchasing

Native grasses serve an important role in our environment, providing habitats for local wildlife while protecting soil and water.  That’s why the Conservation Reserve Program offers compensation to landowners willing to establish and maintain fields of native grasses and forbs

This is done through a number of conservation practices (CP) including CP2, CP4D, CP21, CP23, CP38 and CP42.

These native grasses and forb practices are especially great for farmers interested in CRP, as traditional farm land is generally well suited for native grass and forbs projects. However, it’s not as simple as spreading around some grass seed and waiting for it to grow.

The establishment of native grasses and forbs is a delicate process that requires careful selection and precise planting right from the start.

That’s why we’re devoting two posts to this subject. Today, we will be discussing the importance of quality seed selection.

Selecting the Right Seed for Native Grass and Forb Practices

As with most any CRP project, the type of seed you need for native grass and forbs depends on a number of factors, such as location and soil condition. You’ll need plants that are native to your state, of course, but there’s more to it than that.

Those shopping for native seed mixes like CP2, CP38 and CP42 will quickly discover there are many available options and selecting the wrong mix can result in an unsuccessful establishment.

The different types of CRP seed mixes are engineered for very specific results in specific locations. Having an experienced professional help with the purchasing is very beneficial to this process. If you do not get the right seed mix, it does not matter how perfectly you plant it. The results will be poor.

The Importance of Seed Quality

It’s not enough to select the right type of seed. Quality and purity are paramount when it comes to establishing any CRP land. Only seed that has been cleaned and properly conditioned will take root and germinate as needed.

Bad seed could also clog or damage equipment, resulting in both inconsistent planting and extra expense.

It’s also important that your seed has been checked for noxious weeds such as palmer amaranth. Palmer amaranth can be toxic to wildlife, interfere with the growth of your native grass and forbs and spread to adjacent row crop fields. Palmer amaranth is known to be resistant, even to herbicides.

The best way to battle palmer amaranth is to ensure your seed is free of its presence in the first place.

Taking the Stress out of Purchasing Seed

With 350,000 acres of CRP experience, FDCE understands just how important seed selection is. That’s why we handle it for our clients. We utilize the highest quality seed, reprocessing it to enhance purity for maximum germination.

We also test it to make sure there is no palmer amaranth to be found.

Still, seed selection is only the first step in establishing native grass and forbs projects. The planting process is equally important. To learn more about what happens if it’s not done right, make sure to come back for our next post.

If you’re ready see what our full turn-key CRP service contractors can do for you, click here.