Planting Cover Crop Radishes with Wheat – A Growing Practice
Cover crop radishes planted with wheat at seeding time?
Last year I posted about how farmers in NW Ohio are seeing increases in wheat yields by 4-7 bu/acre by planting 2-4# of cover crop radishes in with their wheat seed. In the fall of 2010 there were more acres of wheat planted in Indiana, Ohio and lower Michigan than in many years before, and several of those acres had radishes planted with them with the hope of increasing yields.
Several test plots were planted as well. Unfortunately, the seed was planted into very dry soil and it did not rain until late October or early November so the radishes grew very little (if at all). So the grand “radish seed planted in with the wheat seed” experiment was pretty much a flop in 2010 in the eastern Corn Belt. However, I heard reports from Oklahoma and New York that claimed to see value in this practice. By the way, 2# per acre is plenty. 4#/acre is too much seed.
How to Mix Cover Crop Radish Seed with Wheat Seed
As I have shared about this potential practice around the Midwest I often-times get the question, “How do I mix the radish seed with the wheat seed?”
I first mention the “coffee can and paddle” approach of adding the seed. As you fill the drill add some radishes and use a paddle (or even a tree limb) to stir it in. With that approach I usually get a confused and almost angry look from producers that think I am mocking them (Seriously, I am not!).
Since most farmers are more sophisticated than that I recommend adding the radish seed to the wheat seed at the seed house. Then I get angry calls from the wheat seed suppliers about adding a “weed seed” into their bagging system!
So I have concluded that the easiest way (and the way to recommend that will not get me in hot water) is to add the radish seed with the fertilizer that will be applied just before or after the wheat is planted.
I’m open to suggestions. If any of you do this differently will you please help out our fellow wheat producers? Thanks!