COVER CROPS

GROUNDHOG RADISH

Groundhog Radish creates a large tuber in order to help break up compaction which makes it a great option for cover crops. The large tuber is able to “mine” nitrogen and other nutrients and store them within its root system making it accessible for the cash crop that follows it. Like any brassica, Groundhog Radish is also an excellent weed suppressant. Plant 6-10 pounds per acre. Reacts well to Nitrogen

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TURNIPS

Turnips are not only an edible food but also great for alleviating soil compaction. Roots are large and smooth, and although they don’t produce as much biomass as a radish, turnips are great for water infiltration. Plant 2-5 lbs. per acre late summer.

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RAPE

Rape is most often used for forage, but it can also be used a cover crop. Due to its rapid fall growth, it is an excellent weed suppressor. It also can have a deep taproot that can capture remaining nutrients from the previous cash crop. Plant 6-10 lbs per acre late summer/early fall. Responds well to Nitrogen.

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BUCKWHEAT

Buckwheat is a great short-season cover crop. Generally, buckwheat matures in a 10-12 week time period. It is known for its ability to suppress weeds and collect phosphorus. It also attracts beneficial insects and pollinators. Plant 50-60 lbs drilled or 100 broadcast late spring or late summer

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WHEAT

Wheat, mostly used for a cash grain, makes a great cover crop. Slower to mature than other cereal grains making it easy to kill. Germinates quickly helping to suppress weeds. Plant 60-120 lbs. per acre late summer/early fall.

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CEREAL WINTER RYE

Cereal Winter Rye is the hardiest of the cereal grains. It can also be planted later in the fall than other grains. Quicker growing than wheat, rye also absorbs more unused N. Rye suppresses weeds allelopathically. Plant 60-120 lbs per acre late summer/early fall.

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ANNUAL RYEGRASS

Annual ryegrass is an economic choice for a cover crop. It holds the soil well and will collect some N. It has a very dense and deep root system. Plant 20-30 lbs late summer/early fall.

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WINTER OATS

Winter Oats are another quick growing cover crop. They will collect excess N and small amounts of other nutrients when planted early enough. Not as winter hardy as rye, wheat, or barley. Plant 2-3 bushel per acre late summer/early fall.

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WINTER HAIRY VETCH

Winter Hairy Vetch is a winter annual legume that is known for its nitrogen contribution. Hairy Vetch produces such a large amount of N that it can partially replace fertilizer for spring. It will improve topsoil tilth and is also a weed suppressor and a phosphorus scavenger. Plant 20-30 lbs per acre late summer.

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CRIMSON CLOVER

Crimson clover is a winter annual that can provide nitrogen for your next cash crop. It will create a good amount of biomass and has been found to grow well when planted with a companion crop. Plant 15-20 lbs per acre late summer.

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AUSTRIAN WINTER PEAS

Winter Peas are a winter annual that can provide nitrogen for your next cash crop. This viney plant can create a good amount of biomass and is a very good weed suppressant. Austrians are typically low growing and proven to be suited best when planted with a cereal grain. Best results when planted by mid September. Plant 40-50 pounds per acre for full stand.

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WINTER BARLEY

Winter barley is an early maturing cover crop. Barley is a quick source of biomass which can improve soil structure and water infiltration. It will collect excess N and it is a great weed suppressor. Earliest maturing cereal grain. Plant 60-100 lbs per acre late summer/early fall.

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FROSTY BERSEEM CLOVER

The most winter hardy variety of berseem clover on the market…surviving down to 9 degrees F in southern Iowa. An excellent source of nitrogen in the southern transition zone. Creates a good amount of biomass. Best suited when planted with a cereal grain when using for cover crop. Plant 7-15 pounds per acre August through September.

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FIXATION BALANSA CLOVER

Fixation balansa clover is an excellent choice for cover crop. Extremely winter hardy, this variety has the ability to set just as much Nitrogen as hairy vetch, but at a cheaper cost due to a smaller seeding rate. Fixation also has a root system that is excellent at breaking the hardpan even when there is little top growth. Tolerant of most soil types and pH levels as low as 5.0. Fixation can also create a large amount of biomass. If not killed by middle of April, Fixation can grow waist high with plant length as tall as six foot. Plant 5-8 pounds per acre August through September.

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SPRING OATS

Spring oats are a quick growing option when considering cover crops. When planted in the fall, springs oats can create a decent amount of biomass quickly. When a killing freeze hits, spring oats will typically terminate create a good barrier preventing weeds while still holding the soil. Plant 2-3 bushel per acre in August – September for best results.

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