The other advantage of this practice is you are not working the ground which typically brings up weed seeds that may have been dormant in the ground for many years. The spring rains help snap that seed out of the ground, getting a jump on any weed seeds that may be there. The over seeded forages will grow and get a canopy established that will help keep weeds at bay.
If you choose to work the ground, the single most important factor is seed to soil contact. Your goal is to get that seed to germinate as quickly as possible to get ahead of the weeds. I had established a couple perennial plots two years ago. I rolled one of them before a big rain and the other I left it up to my family to finish. They didn’t get that field rolled before the rains hit and here is what happened. The rolled field germinated fast, grew fast and had very few weeds in it. The unrolled field germinated 3 or 4 days slower and I had major challenges with weeds. I had to spray that field once with clethodim and another time with pursuit. The rolled field I’ve never had to spray it.
At around day 60 everyone should clip your perennial plots. This is the typical maturity date for clovers, alfalfas and chicory. Never clip lower than 6” as you stop the roots and the roots are the plants powerhouse. The lower you clip the longer it takes for the plant to kick back into production. You should then clip every 28-40 days depending on weather, location and species. Many of the broadleaves that grow in your perennial plots are annuals. If they get clipped once or twice, they typically go away. So many people think spray is the answer when mechanical clipping is also a cheap and natural practice.
The last step of the equation is POTASSIUM. There are very few people I work with or talk to who put enough potassium down. The more vigorous growth you have the more the plants mine the soil. If you have a low yielding perennial plot you won’t mine as much potassium. There is a lot more nutrients pulled from the soil and up into the plant on a field that might yield 5 ton of dry matter per acre than one that only yields 2.5 tons of forage dry matter. What I’d do is put down your recommended amount of phosphorous at planting and ½ the amount of potassium at planting. I’d then come back and put down the rest of your potassium in the fall. This is a split application. Every subsequent year you might need to put down around 200-300 pounds of potassium. How many of you are putting nearly that amount down? There is a reason so many of the soil tests I am getting back are showing very low levels of potassium. Like many of you do with your lawns in the fall, do the same with your perennial food plots, WINTERIZE THEM. They will persist longer and produce more.