The practice offers a double dose of benefits, by jump-starting soil biology and suppressing weeds. It is an excellent nurse crop for frostseeding red clover or sweetclover, if rainfall is sufficient. In Winter Grains for your Garden, I explain how to work with cereal wheat and rye by planting whole "berries" purchased at health food stores. It builds soil and encourages helpful soil microorganisms. Winter wheat cover crops are designed to lessen erosion from runoff of water and wind and to retain the soil. Mixed seeding or nurse crop. The peas are seeded in September to October. Winter Wheat tolerates many soil conditions and low soil fertility. A cover crop is anything that is planted in order to literally “cover” a piece of land that is not in use. Managed as a cover crop, wheat rarely poses an insect or disease risk. In parts of Zone 6 and warmer, you also have a dependable double-crop option. The southeastern Georgia farmer no-till drills winter wheat at 2 bushels per acre right after cotton harvest, without any seedbed preparation. Mustard is a particularly good cover crop for clay soil, where it can be dug in before winter so frosts have a chance to break the soil up. Wheat’s fine root system also improves topsoil tilth. A Maryland study of 25 wheat cultivars showed no major differences in overall biomass production at maturity (92). See Wheat Boosts Income and Soil Protection. With rye, he has to disk two to three weeks earlier in spring to incorporate the biomass, which can be a problem in wet conditions. You also could overseed winter wheat prior to cotton defoliation and harvesting. It works well in no-till or reduced-tillage systems, and for weed control in potatoes grown with irrigation in semiarid regions. There are many combinations to choose from: using winter wheat or cereal rye; planting flat or on beds; and planting the following crop no-till, strip-till, or conventional till. If you want a grain option, that could make harvest difficult. “We usually get wheat in by Thanksgiving, but as long as it’s planted by Christmas, I know it’ll do fine,” he adds. It’s less likely than barley or rye to become a weed and is easier to kill. Use of resistant varieties and other IPM practices can avoid many pest problems in wheat grown for grain. Winter wheat works well in mixtures with other small grains or with legumes such as hairy vetch. Wheat is an ideal fall cover crop that you can later decide to harvest as a cash crop, cotton farmer Max Carter has found. As with other small grain cover crops, it is safest to kill about 2-3 weeks before planting your cash crop, although this will depend on local conditions and your killing and tillage system. Benefits and Concerns Nutrient Management. The discussion around adding winter wheat and a cover crop into a rotation to build soils and improve the bottom line is supported by concrete evidence, but some growers continue to resist the recommendation. Some examples of crops that will survive the winter — depending on winter temperature lows — include winter rye, winter wheat, hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas, and crimson clover. 2019-38640-29881. Winter wheat matures more slowly than some cereals, so there’s no rush to kill it off in early spring, and thereby, risk compaction of the soil during the wet season. That’s one reason vegetable grower Will Stevens of Shoreham, Vt., prefers wheat to rye as a winter cover on his heavy, clay-loam soils. Some of these species are cereal rye, wheat, triticale, barley, and hairy vetch. N/A by December, a Maryland study showed (46). Erosion control. Although it’s not a common practice, winter wheat can be planted in the spring as a weed-suppressing companion crop or early forage. Poor Soil / Hungry Crops . The wheat got an early start and is probably why it looked so good when he applied Roundup to it in April. 66 to 72, for ranking and management summary. Another possibility for Zone 7 and cooler: Plant full-season soybeans into wheat cover crop residue, and plant a wheat cover crop after bean harvest. This hardy annual cereal grain provides a host of benefits to compacted and overused soil. If you sow sweetclover in fall with winter wheat, it could outgrow the wheat. “Adding wheat and a cover crop can make the difference over time when faced with less than ideal conditions,” she explains. In Colorado vegetable systems, wheat reduced wind erosion and scavenged N from 5 feet deep in the profile (111, 114). “The chopper on the rear of the combine puts the straw right back on the soil as an even blanket and we’re back planting cotton on June 1.”, “It sure beats idling land and losing topsoil.”. The thick, lush growth protects the soil from winter’s fury. Strip-plantings of cereal rye can also be used as windbreaks to protect vegetable crops and tobacco from wind erosion ( Figure 4 ). In much of Zone 7, cowpeas would be a good choice after wheat harvest in early July or before planting winter wheat in fall. Nitrogen uptake is only half of that of rye in the fall Wheat is a plentiful source of straw and stubble. After the glyphosate burns the crop back, soybeans will be planted directly into browned wheat. And that protection extends to keeping weed seeds out as well. It tolerates poorly drained, heavier soils better than barley or oats, but flooding can easily drown a wheat stand. Some years, you might plant into the wheat and broadcast Roundup about a week later. Broadcast seeds over a prepared seedbed when growing winter wheat at home. In the Corn Belt and northern U.S., undersow red clover or frostseed sweetclover into a wheat nurse crop if you want the option of a year of hay before going back to corn. Winter Cover Crop Three Sisters Plan. If wheat diseases or pests are a major concern in your area, rye or barley might be a better choice as an overwintering cover crop that provides a grain option, despite their lower grain yield. There are two recommended methods for seeding a winter rye or wheat cover crop: (1) into standing corn or soybeans in late summer (late August), broadcast the seed with an airplane or helicopter at a rate of 2-3 bushels per acre; or (2) after corn or soybean harvest, disk lightly, fertilize (if needed), and broadcast or drill the seed at a rate All the nutrients are recycled when wheat is managed as a cover crop, giving it a role in scavenging excess nitrogen. “It’s a very easy system, with wheat always serving as a fall cover crop for us. Oats and spring barley will grow rapidly in late summer and continue until a hard freeze. About 80 percent of the K is recycled if the stems and leaves aren’t removed from the field at harvest. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. If indicated by soil testing, P or K also would be fall-applied for the following potato crop. Some starter N (50 to 60 lb./A) can help the wheat establish. The recommendations for establishing winter rye and winter wheat are similar. The practice has proven viable for many of our growers, despite the disadvantage of not having good seed-to-soil contact. “You want a good, competitive wheat stand and a vigorous potato crop if you’re depending on a banded herbicide mix and wheat mulch for weed control,” says Eberlein. Soil builder and organic matter source. NC State Extension is the largest outreach program at NC State University. Hard winter wheat, Austrian winter peas, and tillage radish make good sisters. The foliage is pale green and the flowers are purple, pink or reddish. Half of that of rye because it is an excellent green manure minimize erosion weed... 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