NDSU Extension - Burke County


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Cover Crops part 3

Cover Crops part 3


County Agent News
Dan Folske
October 20, 2014
Cover Crops Continued:

What do you want in your mix? Here are a few crops and the possible benefits of using them and also some of the possible negatives.
          Barley: Inexpensive seed, some salt tolerance, good for late summer, early fall seeding, good grazing or forage potential. Good soil builder and N scavenger. If seeded too early and allowed to head out the residue may be slow to breakdown and may tie up N.
          Pearl Millet: Very rapid growth, good for short windows. Good N scavenger. Might be good for a quick hay crop on fallow or PP type acres prior to winter wheat. Remember potential insure conflicts on PP acres. May have toxicity issues if grazed before it is 24” tall.
          Oats: Good N scavenger, good forage, great soil builder, inexpensive seed, good weed suppressor.
          Winter Rye: Very good N scavenger, excellent erosion control, good weed fighter, great grazing and topsoil loosener, very tolerant of cold temperatures. Good early spring growth but could be a weed problem if not completely terminated in the spring.
          Sorghum-sudan crosses: Good summer seeded cover, good N scavenger and soil builder, great forage production but can contain prussic acid is enough growth is not achieved or if stressed. May have excessive residue if seeded to thick and not harvested as forage. Low tolerance to flooding or ponding.
          Triticale: Similar to rye
          Wheat and durum: Similar to oats but more likely to carry forward diseases and insects to future small grain crops.
          Alfalfa: N builder, great water user with deep taproot for saline recharge areas. Great forage producer. A few varieties are available which have greater salt tolerance. Best used for multiple years. Seed can be expensive and established plants can be more difficult to terminate. Some annual varieties are available. Non-winter hardy types could be used as an annual.
          Berseem Clover: Summer annual with good drought and heat tolerance. Good N and soil builder. Good for grazing or forage. It is sometimes classified as a winter annual in southern states so it may have a potential for overwintering in extremely mild winters. Most clovers have some “hard seed” which remain dormant for at least one year and could have the potential to be a weed in following crops. Berseem does have a lower hard seed count than most clover types and seedlings should be easy to kill with in-crop herbicides.
          Crimson Clover: Winter annual that is shade tolerant and can be seeded with spring cereal grains. Very good N source and soil builder. Good for grazing and forage. Potential bloat hazard. Some hard seed.
          Hairy Vetch: Great N source and soil builder but hard seed may be a source of volunteers. Seed from volunteers can be difficult to clean from small grains. Can be a host for diseases which affect peas.
          Field peas: Good N source and topsoil loosener. Cold and frost tolerant. Good forage.
(More crop species next week)


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