Big Differences in Cover Crop Radishes

This tuber of GroundHog Radish was fairly typical where there was good fertility. This came from a very sandy soil near Melvin, MI. The farmer is very pleased with the results on his 300 acres of radishes.

There are big differences in cover crop radishes.  Some are outstanding and consistent; deep and fairly large tubers (tuber girth seems to be related to fertility and age of stand).  In the thumb of Michigan I saw over 300 acres of fields planted at 10#/acre that were just what the farmer wanted.  We found most of the tubers 8-12” deep and we could not really find the real bottom of the roots as we broke them off in the soil.

These GroundHog Radishes were all within 30” of each other on a blow sand hill. While not all are big, they are all holding nutrients.


While some varieties have good tubers, in other instances I have found real problems.  In a field in NE Indiana a SWCD director brought some radishes from a farmer’s field that were verysmall.  The farmer planted around 100 acres of a VNS radish and he was not happy.  I don’t blame him…look at the photo below.

The three radishes to the left are VNS and the radish to the right is the GroundHog variety. The VNS had been in the soil for 3-4 more weeks than the GroundHog radish.

What makes this story even more interesting is that the VNS radish (VNS = Variety Not Stated) cost the farmer 30-40 cents less per pound than the improved variety.  Unfortunately, he’s unhappy because his radishes are not performing.   The farmer saved $3-4/acre and is frustrated.  Two things…and this is for dealers and producers…#1 –Choose to buy from a trustworthy source #2) IF there is a big price savings…beware there is a reason for that spread!  Saving 15-20% on seed is HUGE!  If there is that much saving ask questions and get good answers!

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2 Responses to Big Differences in Cover Crop Radishes

  1. Dan Wahmhoff, Wahmhoff Farms Nursery October 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    What do you think? Our experience with this year’s crop was exactly the opposite of what is shown above. We had planted Oilseed Radish VNS last year and had very desirable results. This year I spent the extra to make sure I had an awesome crop…I planted the GroundHog variety. It produced a horrible crop…very little leafy vegetation above the ground and wimpy tubers below the ground. My friend at a neighboring nursery again planted VNS radish and again had an awesome crop. I am very disappointed with the GroundHog results…mentioned it to my salesman and received no return comments. I am not impressed.

  2. Mark Fritz October 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    What do you think?
    VNS radishes at Putnam Co. Extensio plot grew well enough, but flowered and set seed; i.e. a rather short vegetative period when root growth appears. Proprietary radishes were just beginning to flower a week ago. By the way, both were planted in late July so that there would be something to look at an August field day. Also, very warm and extremely dry July – Aug . Of all the different cover crops planted, the radishes, oats and rye all looked good, considering. Most everything else bombed.