Autumn sown yellow rattle will germinate from late February to early March flowering in mid June completing its life cycle and setting seed in July. After setting seed the yellow rattle plants will die away leaving behind gaps where new wild flower seeds could establish. This is why wild flower seeds sown into areas where yellow rattle is already established will establish more readily.
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Establishing Yellow Rattle
Establishing yellow rattle can be unpredictable and achieving optimal plant numbers may take up to three seasons. Speed of establishment will depend on the sowing rate chosen and overall site conditions.
Selecting the best site
- Although a grassland wildflower yellow rattle does not thrive in all types of grassland. The most suitable sites for yellow rattle will be well managed grassland of low fertility with a balanced range of finer grass species not dominated by coarse or aggressive grasses such as ryegrass. Specially sown wildflower meadow grassland will give the best result when establishing yellow rattle. Wild flower meadow mixtures contain finer grass species allowing for better establishment. meadows. Yellow rattle often fails to establish in ryegrass leys and neglected grassland.
- A Short Sward – This can be achieved by cutting or hard grazing. Aim to keep the grass short (40-50mm).
- Create Space – Space is needed for yellow rattle seed to germinate in. This can be achieved in the autumn by grazing the grass ley with stock (their hooves open the sward) or by harrowing or raking.
- Timing: yellow rattle seed must be sown in the autumn as it needs prolonged chilling through the winter to trigger its germination the following spring.
- Sowing rate: yellow rattle seed should be scattered onto the prepared surface at a rate of 0.1 to 1 g/m2.