Crimson Clover…Great Cover Crop for Corn Producers

After talking to hundreds of row crop producers about cover crops, I was reminded of how much crimson clover offers to the corn farmer.  Not only will crimson clover produce somewhere between 70-140 units of N (with approximately 1/2 of that being available for the next crop…the other percentage goes to building soil organic matter), it also makes for a great companion to other cover crop species.  It mixes well with radishes, annual ryegrass, turnips, oats, winter cereal rye, etc…  The nice thing about crimson clover is that when using it with the other species it pretty much eliminates the need for adding additional nitrogen to those crops.  Most farmers I’ve talked to say that the cost of using crimson clover is less than applying the usable nitrogen equivalent.

Using improved varieties makes a difference too.  Last spring we saw where “Dixie” and some lesser expensive VNS crimson clovers died out over the winter.  New varieties like AU Robin and AU Sunrise looked very strong coming out of the winter with beautiful nitrogen producing stands this spring.

Cover crops May 2010 001

My son Edward in the cover crop plot in mid-May 2010. This is the AU Robin crimson clover plot he's in.

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