Friday, March 16, 2012

Cover Crops

Today I participated in a cover crop workshop near Brownsburg, Indiana. There were lots of questions and good discussions on which cover crops to use, how to plant them and what they do to the soil. We had a good chance to see annual ryegrass from Oregon that needed killed so we could talk some about tank chemistry.

The host, Mike and Dave Starkey, had a good soil pit dug to show the roots had gotten over 50 inches deep in their soil. The seed was aerially flown into corn before harvest to give it a good start before winter. Aerial seeding is hard to time and get good results so many farmers do not aerial seed. If you can get the timing right before rain at the proper plant stage of growth, you can seed a lot of acres in a hurry. One panelist had gotten 1000 acres sown on one day and it all came up.

While I was there, I was called about burn down for farmers ready to spray. We talked about using 4 ounces of Sencor or metribuzin to fry the winter annuals that have survived this warm winter.

I was impressed with Mike's panel from 3 different counties and not from his county. They are all using the same planter setup I learned to use many years ago and now we are learning together how to raise cover crops to increase our crop growth through soil health even more.

The cover crop man was there from Oregon and works with my friend Garth Mulkey, who started the Nitro Radish production and education. His slides of "swamp buggies" they use in Oregon was interesting, basically two big inner tubes mounted as a tire on a tractor or spray rig rim. They were left over after the Viet Nam war where so many aircraft inner tubes were used. Someone bought a container or two full of them and the farmers learned how to make the "duck" tires as they call them.

You always learn something at one of these get togethers and this one was full of innovators from near and far away.



  1. Ed, which cover crops are currently the most popular in your area? I'm guessing radish, cereal rye and maybe crimson clover. Annual ryegrass is really gaining popularity in the "I" states but not so much in Ohio, right?

    The guys from KB seeds are top-notch growers from about 15 miles from me. Very good spokesmen for our industry.

  2. You are correct, Orin. Grasses probably number one with cereal rye, annual ryegrass and oats used. Radishes are right behind but ahead in some areas. Lots of preventive plant ground got planted to radishes and rye or peas last summer. Not that much crimson clover yet, just hasn't caught on. I think we have barely touched the surface on cover crops.