Finally, rain! Time to seed cover crops.

With the recent rain, now is a good time to seed cover crops. There are many cover crop options to choose from that fit your soil’s needs.

As I’m writing this (August 10, 2012), the temperature is in the 60s and we received our first substantial rain of the season. Since we harvested our wheat early this year, we now have an excellent window to seed cover crops.

It is really important to plant or drill cover crops into a clean, weed-free field. This allows the cover crop to establish before the weed and thus can out-compete the weeds.

The rain we are receiving will stimulate the weeds to grow. You can control these weeds with herbicides or tillage. Tillage will also trigger unharvested wheat seeds to germinate. With our warm soils, weeds should germinate quickly, so make sure you monitor the field for them.

The good news is that it is only mid-August, therefore you have many cover crop options.

If you think you have nitrogen in the soil that wasn’t used up, here are my recommendations:

1.       Oilseed radish
2.       Oats
3.       Sorghum
4.       Sorghum + sudan grass
5.       *Annual ryegrass

8-10 lbs/A
2 bu/A
20 lbs/A
20 lbs/A
25 lbs/A

*Can be difficult to control in the spring

If you want to build nitrogen:

1.       **Crimson clover
2.       Austrian winter pea

10 lbs/A
60 lbs/A

**Inoculate crimson clover

Combination (cocktails):

1.       Oilseed radish plus oats
2.       Oilseed radish plus cereal rye
3.       Annual ryegrass plus **crimson clover

5 lbs, 1.5bu/A
5 lbs, 1.5bu/A
20 lbs, 10 lbs/A

There are certainly other cover crop choices.

For more information on cover crops, visit the Midwest Cover Crops Council website or purchase the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, a pocket guide for cover crops at Purdue Extension’s The Education Store (888-EXT-INFO).

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