Time to Consider a Cover Crop?

Jun 26, 2024

Radish and turnip cover crop
The early spring laid the groundwork for early planting – until it started raining. A lot. If your fields didn’t get planted, or if the rains washed out early planted crops in low areas, it might be time to consider a good cover crop to keep soils in place and healthy until next season. Or, if you have fields you decided to fallow, a cover crop is a good option.
There is a wide array of cover crop seed options, according to Tucker Cebulla, Agassiz Seed territory sales manager. Agassiz offers everything from a simple two-species mix of radish and turnip to a custom blend of seeds from a list of 30 species.
The basic recommendation is a radish/turnip mix with a low seeding rate, which is easy to seed (broadcast or drilled). That is “just to get somebody started,” said Cebulla. However, Cebulla said, “I like to put down a grass of some sort with that, a cereal or forage grass.”
“Grasses are large water users,” he said, and since most of the fields getting cover crops at this point are well saturated, “sucking some of that water out [of the soil] would be in their best interest.”
A small grain is another cover crop option, and the choice of grain would be dependent on whether the crop will be overwintered or tilled under this fall.
“Getting a legume, or multiple legumes, in a custom blend gives you more bang for the buck in a mix of hairy vetch, field peas, clovers, etc.,” said Cebulla. "The legumes will fixate nitrogen from the atmosphere and provide a grower with the cheapest form of nitrogen available to them."
Agassiz offers custom blends and several stock mixes; the Nitro Brand™ mix is a popular choice for improving soil health.
The Agassiz website lists their cover crop options for summer or fall planting. Your Federated Agronomist can answer questions about your best choice(s) for prevent plant acres this year.

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