For Mark Hadway, producing seed with BrettYoung is about more than growing a good crop — it’s about being part of something bigger.
Hadway seeded his first seed production crop with BrettYoung in 2000. His neighbours were growing with us and Hadway liked the idea of producing seed for a local company, then having that seed go around the world. He started with 100 acres of perennial ryegrass, and 23 years later, he’s still producing seed with BrettYoung, growing anywhere from 150 to 600 acres of tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, or meadow fescue in a season.
“With BrettYoung, we make a global footprint,” said Hadway. “It’s cool to be a part of that.”
This year, Hadway has a tall fescue crop on its third year.
“Tall fescue is one of those crops that if you’ve got excess moisture in the fall, it’s a good crop to have in the rotation,” he said. “It’s probably my favourite because of that.”
Hadway said tall fescue is a great alternative to common crops like wheat. It offers the soil the opportunity to develop a better organic matter base for drainage, it traps moisture, and it allows for different herbicides to come into rotation, giving the piece of land a break.
Another plus tall fescue brings is its early harvesting window. On his farm of 5,500 acres, Hadway likes that he has one less crop to worry about — because it’s already done. Tall fescue is typically ready to come off by mid to late July.
Last year was one of his most successful ever when it comes to his tall fescue yield.
Hadway usually under seeds his tall fescue with wheat. He starts by seeding the field to wheat and then seeds tall fescue with a second pass at a slight angle to the wheat. This allows him to accurately plant each crop at the correct depth and reduces the competition between the tall fescue seedlings and neighboring wheat plants.
This routine has given Hadway success every time. He said he’ll get two or three crops out of one seeding, which means he reaps the benefits from one round of seed for up to three years.
Though he’s a pro when it comes to seeding tall fescue, harvest is a complete wildcard.
“You want the right weather,” said Hadway. “You want to knock the fescue down into the perfect swath and have it cure as evenly as possible.”
If the swath isn’t spread out evenly, the grass won’t dry, which means it can’t come off the field yet. So, Hadway will get the family together for “bonding” and everyone will take a pitchfork to the piles and spread them out evenly.
“You want to be confident it won’t spoil in the bin,” he said.
After the combine picks everything up, Hadway does his annual soil test and does a split application of fertilizer (half in the fall and half in the spring) based on the test’s recommendations.
Hadway said one of the best parts about producing seed with BrettYoung is the professionalism and ease from step one to the end. He said his Seed Production Specialist, Scott Davie, goes above and beyond for him, making sure Hadway knows what’s going on with his field at all times, including in the winter.
“It’s also great that you deliver to one spot and the seed is cleaned in the same spot,” he said. “It’s a treat to deal with a company like that. I like being a part of that.”
To learn more about producing seed with BrettYoung, click here.