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Dormant Seeding of Native Species in Hawley MN

Guess what?  The puck is about to drop and we are getting ready to start the third period. Ok, not literally, but in terms of our growing season, spring is our first period, summer the second, and fall is our third period. Our first and second periods have been busy as usual. Our spring and summer projects are completed and are looking spectacular considering this is their first growing season. Yet, there is still much more work to do.

Currently, at our Bluestem Farm nearMoorhead, our restorationists are completing site preparation tasks for projects that will be installed this October as dormant seedings. In a dormant seeding, the seed remains inactive until the ground warms the following spring. It is important to seed once soil temperatures have cooled sufficiently to ensure that germination will not occur until the following spring. If soil temperatures are warm enough, the seed may germinate and there may not be enough time before winter for the young seedlings to become established.  In our area, the recommended dormant seeding dates are from late September thru freeze up.

There are several reasons why dormant seedings are done.  Often times construction or dirt work takes most of the growing season to complete and dormant seedings extend the window of opportunity to complete projects. In our area, we have heavy clay soils and usually have excessive spring and early summer moisture that keeps the soils too wet to plant. Therefore, seeding in the dormant season allows more time for the soil conditions to become suitable for seeding. Finally, many native species benefit from a dormant seeding because the freezing and thawing of winter can stratify the seed, helping it to germinate in the spring when soil temperatures warm.

Yes, we have much work to complete before freeze up. Fortunately at the Bluestem Farm, we have a great crew that works hard and takes a lot of pride in what we do! So does the rest of Prairie Resto, but I’m a little biased!  Here’s hoping for a long fall and, to finish my hockey analogy: “Let’s get out there and finish this third period strong!”

Blaine Keller
Site Manager-Bluestem Farm

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