Improving Pastures by Overseeding (Frost Seeding)

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Spring is just around the corner, meaning that pasture improvements and forages are becoming a priority. There are multiple actions that can be taken to improve a pasture. This time of year, overseeding is a main method.

Overseeding is the act of casting cool-season forage and legume seed over an established pasture. This is beneficial to pastures because it increases the desired forage or legume species that are beneficial to livestock, making the pasture more efficient. This increases livestock’s consumption and weight gain on forage, which results in increased profits.

In Avery County and mountain areas above 2,500 feet elevation, overseeding should occur between March 1 through April 30 for optimal seed germination. Seeding during this time period allows the seeds to be introduced to the soil through freezing and thawing of snow and frost. This introduction allows the seeds to germinate and start growing before other unwanted species, making the beneficial species have optimal time to become established.

To start this process of pasture improvement, it is best if the producer starts preparing a month or two months ahead, so that materials are ready for use during the optimal time window. During this preparation time, producers should purchase do the following:

  • Purchase desired species seed.
  • Cut pastures if the current grass is taller than 4 inches. (This allows the seed to adequately reach the ground.)
  • Prepare equipment such as tractor and broadcaster.
  • Schedule a tentative time, during the optimal frost seeding window (March 1–April 30) to frost seed the pasture.

For more information on overseeding, please contact Michelle South, Extension Agent – Livestock, at 828-733-8270 or