Brassicas & Grasses for Fall Planting
Cover Crop Guide
Daikon radish is a brassica that produces more root mass than turnips or mustards. The extra large root system allows nitrogen and other nutrients to be pulled from deep within the soil and bring them back to the surface. Upon decomposition, the nitrogen and other nutrients become available to the next crop. Daikon radish reduces soil compaction, increases soil organic matter, improves soil tilth and also enhances soil aeration.
Eco-Till Radish (021-43504)
- Superior, deep penetrating taproot
- Reduces soil compaction
- Builds organic matter
- Improves nutrient recycling
- Enhances soil tilth
- Excellent weed suppression
Rape is a brassica that has excellent nutrient scavenging ability, high biomass production, and rapid fall growth. It puts large amounts of organic matter into the soil and decomposes quickly after being turned under. Rape’s rapid germination and growth make it an ideal choice for fall weed suppression and reducing surface compaction all while providing winter cover. Rape can also scavenge soil nitrogen that has gone below the crop root zone and can be grazed by livestock.
Turnips are brassicas that have rapid fall growth, excellent nutrient scavenging ability, and biomass production. Turnips do not produce as much biomass as other brassicas but do provide macrochannels that aid in water infiltration. They can survive the winter and hold onto nutrients longer in the spring. Turnips also help suppress weeds in the following crop, reduce surface compaction, and can be grazed by livestock.
As a cover crop, annual ryegrass can break up natural and manmade hardpans with its deep root penetration when planted in a continuous, no-till rotation. Up to 30-90 pounds of nitrogen per acre can be provided for the following crop by recycling the nitrogen in the soil under no-till farming management as long as it is not harvested or grazed. The ability to capture and keep nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil profile after manure applications, preventing nutrient runoff, is another advantage. Annual ryegrass can also greatly reduce soil erosion, especially when planted after corn. Other benefits include reducing soybean cyst nematode populations and potential increased corn and soybean yields due to improved soil characteristics.
Fria Annual Ryegrass (021-42065)
- Breaks up natural and manmade hardpans
- Deep root penetration
- Captures and keeps nitrogen and phosphorus in the plant
Gulf Annual Rye (021-42023)
- Annual bunchgrass with smooth, shiny, dark green leaves
- Grows 2-3 feet tall with high nutritive quality
- Major use is mainly pasture, although sometimes used for hay or silage
- Natural reseeding is common
Cereal rye is a fall planted, winterhardy species with deep root penetration. The extensive root system enables cereal rye to capture high levels of nitrogen an dother nutrients from the soil and reduces soil compaction issues. Cereal rye has the added benefit of late fall and early spring grazing, as well as spring silage or hay.
Oats are very versatile as they can be planted during various times of the season and used as an excellent cover and forage crop. Oats work well alone, but especially well in mixes with radishes, turnips, berseem clover, crimson clover, and Austrian winter peas. Oats perform well for erosion control and are very good nutrient scavengers. Oats (and mixes with radishes or turnips) work very well for manure nutrient management. Consult with an agronomy professional before purchasing or planting any seed variety to confirm adaptability to your local growing conditions.
Triticale is a hybrid small grain produced by crossing wheat and rye. The name ‘triticale’ is derived from the combined scientific names of the two crop species wheat and rye. The versatility that triticale offers as a gran, a forage, for straw, and as a crop, adds to the economic viability that sustains the interest in this crop. Consult with an agronomy professional before purchasing or planting any seed variety to confirm adaptability to your local growing conditions.