cover crop

Asked May 3, 2016, 7:45 AM EDT

I want to plant a cover crop on 4 acres of tired ground. I want to be able to use it again next late May for sweet corn or a mix of vegetables. What do you think about seeding a vetch rye blend?

Lawrence County South Dakota

1 Response

I am attaching an excerpt from iGrow for you to consider: I understand cover cropping depends on many things and this article may help you decide on the best one that fits your needs. The link to the entire article is below. Another link to cover crops is within the article. I hope this is helpful. Both rye and vetch are good but the timing is important for the best results.

hat cover crops should I plant? The list of plants suitable for cover crop usage is long. This can make the decision regarding what cover crops to plant overwhelming. A good starting point is for a producer to first identify what the goal of their cover crop is going to be? If there is more than one goal, narrowing the goals to one or two primary goals and perhaps a few secondary goals will be helpful. This will simplify the search for the best cover crop species.

Cover crops can be divided into four types; warm season broadleaves, warm season grasses, cool season grasses and cool season broadleaves. Research performed in South Dakota and other areas has shown that the benefits of a cover crop are maximized when they consist of a mix of types and species. An extensive list of cover crops, their specific characteristics including what category they fall into is listed at the following web address:

This information will be very beneficial to anyone looking for a tailor made cover crop mixture.

Once a cover crop mix has been designed and prior to seed purchase, there are some questions that growers can ask themselves to ensure a smoother experience with cover crops. For instance:

  1. Will the selected cover crop species act as a host in pest cycles in adjacent crops, as well as for the next crop in the rotation?
  2. How will I seed the cover crop?
  3. What were the previous crop herbicides and will they affect the cover crop(s) I want to plant?
  4. What will soil temperature and moisture conditions be like?
  5. How vigorous will other crops (or pests) be?
  6. What weather extremes and field traffic must it tolerate?
  7. Will it winterkill in my area?
  8. Should it winterkill, to meet my goals?
  9. What kind of regrowth can I expect?

Thinking through the answer to these questions can help avoid some of the pitfalls that can accompany first time cover crop producers.

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