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Hairy Vetch- a Top Nitrogen Producer

Hairy Vetch is a terrific nitrogen producing cover crop species.  For Hairy Vetch to produce significant Nitrogen it needs to be established in adequate time to have good growth before going dormant in winter.  Hairy Vetch must also be inoculated to be productive.  One challenge with using Hairy Vetch is that it contains significant amounts […]

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Winter Barley-a “forgotten cover crop species”

Winter Barley makes a great cover crop. In fact, in many regions Winter Barley is now being used successfully as a cover crop.  Newer winterhardy varieties make Winter Barley much more viable to use in the colder regions of the upper-Midwest.  Winter Barley performs better on poorer soils than many other cereal grains and its […]

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Cowpeas-some love, some…

Cowpeas are an enigma for Midwestern producers.  Sometimes referenced as a “summer soybean,” cowpeas need to have hot weather and adequate moisture to have the best success.  Cowpeas do exhibit  good drought tolerance. If there is a dry summer, cowpeas should be planted by 4th week of July.  Inoculating cowpeas is vital for success.  Cowpeas […]

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Oats…a wonderful and versatile cover crop

Oats are one of the more versatile cover crops as they can be planted various times of the season and used as an excellent cover and an excellent forage crop.  Oats work well alone, but especially well in mixes with oilseed radishes, turnips, Berseem and Crimson Clovers, and Austrian Winter Peas, etc…  Oats work well […]

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Crimson Clover; a jewel among the cover crop legumes

Crimson clover is a real jewel among the cover crop species.  Crimson clover is an excellent producer of nitrogen and there are some newer varieties on the market that are very winterhardy even into Michigan.  Dr. Eileen Kladivko measured how much nitrogen was produced by crimson clover in a test plot in western Indiana.  What […]

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Annual Ryegrass…leading the new frontier of cover crops

Annual Ryegrass is one of the more popular and also one of the more vilified of the cover crops.  Those that love it cite the deep fibrous roots and excellent soil tilth improvement.  Those that loathe it cite that it does not always survive the winter…or that they can’t kill it if it does! Thankfully […]

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Cover Crop Radishes and Turnips…what are their differences?

The cover crop radishes and forage turnips that I accidentally planted in my wife’s wildflower garden just over 4 weeks ago lets me make some observations about the differences between the radish and turnip roots.  The radishes have a fairly “hairless” root that has very quickly reached 7 ” deep.  On the other hand, the […]

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Cover Crop Radishes – differences in varieties

On May 29th I planted 6 different cover crop radish varieties in a plot.  In those 16 days we’ve had good moisture, and I did apply some 30-0-5 fertilizer around 60 days ago (with slow release N).  I had to thin the plots to have 1 radish per 4″ (recommended distance between radishes by those […]

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Austrian Winter Peas

Austrian Winter Peas

Austrian Winter Peas are a good cover crop for producing nitrogen. These peas have better cold tolerance than Canadian Field Peas yet still grow well when planted after wheat or other summer annuals. It’s preferred to plant them in August after the hottest days are normally past. Below I list the advantages and disadvantages of […]

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Cover Crop Radishes – What they do

Cover crop radishes are “all the buzz” these days in the cover crop world.  Cover crop radishes should have fairly large tubers that penetrate the soil and add many benefits.  The main benefits are that they enhance percolation and aeration.  Additionally they provide food for earthworms like few other cover crops.  It is quite common […]

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