How to start organic transition?

Asked August 6, 2020, 6:21 PM EDT

We're planning purchase ~40 acres in Linn County currently in conventional fescue (previously rotated in other crops). Glyphosate was applied this year. Harvest is planned soon. We intend to begin transition this fall and subsequent 3-years to organic, for future mix of organic fruit, berries and row crops. Our question: what's the best cover crop this fall for the very beginning of organic transition? And recommended next steps? Other considerations?
thanks! j.c.

Linn County Oregon

2 Responses

Since you are ultimately working to kill the fescue out, you will probably want to consider repeated tillage this summer before planting your cover crop. Ideally, you'd also have time to plant a vigorous summer cover crop like sudan or sudex (sorghum x sudan grass hybrid), but that might be a plan to consider for next summer.

So, a robust fall planted mix is cereal rye (30-50lbs/ac) and common vetch (50-70lbs/ac). That should give some cereal rye and a lot of vetch that will release Nitrogen after it is incorporated. If you'd like to use only a legume for ease of tillage, you could go with common vetch or crimson clover. Crimson clover will grows well through the winter, but don't tolerate heat well and would likely need to be worked into the soil earlier than vetch. Your soil's drainage may factor in to your choice for that.

Plan to seed your fall cover crop in early to mid September and irrigate.

Thanks Melissa.

What considerations about hedge rows and buffers from spray application drift, and runoff of pesticides and herbicides from surrounding conventional grass seed farms surrounding an organic farm? What to be wary of, and what can be done to prevent contamination between fields where grass is also grown conventionally?
any consultants you can refer us to for our specific situation?