Whether you are farming conventionally, using no-till or farming organically, soils should have a living crop growing on each field for as many months as possible. Many of our forage crops also act as cover crops. In addition to selling forages that can double as cover crops, King’s AgriSeeds has developed several mixtures that will help improve your soil’s health. Mixtures are far more beneficial in improving the life of your soil than a monoculture. Cover crops have huge potential to improve your farm’s long term productivity and profitability. Choose the appropriate cover crop for your farm.
Dave Wilson’s Cover Crop Information
VETCH & OATS
This is a well balanced mixture of Jerry Oats and Hairy Vetch, and works well from North Carolina to Maine. The oats, which winter kill in many areas, help protect the slow-establishing hairy vetch from weed pressure and gives the vetch protection from winter extremes.
A mixture of Crimson Clover, annual ryegrass, and oats. It is a superb cover crop for southern Pennsylvania (south of I-78) and further south. The benefit of Crimson Clover is that it flowers early, and thus will fix nitrogen earlier in the spring than other legumes. Annual ryegrass has very extensive root growth and improves soil structure better than cereal grains.
A mixture of Spring Peas, Jerry Oats and Hairy Vetch. Best seeded in late winter to early spring. Once soil warms up, this mix germinates and grows rapidly to produce quick spring nitrogen. The spring oats act as a nurse crop, and then provide structural support for the vining peas and hairy vetch. This mix, once established, will crowd out weeds and fix nitrogen. Note: Can also be seeded in late summer.
A Red, Ladino, and Sweet clover mix that can be frost seeded, spring seeded, fall seeded, aerial seeded, broadcast after last cultivation of corn, or seeded just before soybean leaf drop. With its diversity, the white and red clover will grow in long, cool springs and in the fall, and the yellow blossom sweet clover grows well in the summer months and drier spells.
For broadcasting in late summer with moisture. Will improve soils in many ways including nitrogen fixation, soil tilth and drainage. Can be broadcasted with hand seeders, ATV seeders, highboy seeders and by airplane or helicopter. Great for seeding into a living corn crop and open fields in late summer. Includes MO1 and/or Marshall Annual Ryegrass, Crimson Clover, Common Medium Red Clover, Daikon Radish, and Yellow Sweet Clover. Seeding rate: 18 lb/A.
Clean and Green
A mixture of 80% Tall Fescue and 20% annual ryegrass. For conservation purposes. Adjust seeding rate to erosion risk.
N-DURE PEA/VETCH INOCULANT
Inoculant seed that was not preinoculated or coated. Treats 100# of peas or vetch. OMRI listed.
Cover Crop Individual Species and Varieties
A legume cover crop that performs well in wet soils. Alsike can also be used as a forage, but it is toxic to horses.
BRACO WHITE MUSTARD
This cover is excellent to use where harmful nematodes are a problem. When the crop gets close to flower it should be mowed and immediately worked into the soil. Mustards or brassica crops are also excellent nutrient recyclers and attract many beneficial organisms.
A summer annual cover crop that will handle poor soils and also attracts many beneficial insects. In addition, buckwheat extracts phosphorous from the soil, making it more available to the following crops.
COMMON MEDIUM RED CLOVER
A low cost legume cover crop that can be used similarly to the 3-way clover mix. Red clover is fast starting and shade tolerant. Also available in Certified Organic.
A legume cover crop that can be planted in late summer as a winter annual or in the spring. Rapid spring growth provides weed suppression and makes it a valuable spring and summer green manure, providing 60 to 100 lbs of N. It can be easily grown in rotation before grain sorghum or sorghum-sudangrass. In Northern areas of PA and farther north, this doesn’t over winter, but can be grown as a summer annual for fall nitrogen. Has a deep red flower that produces abundant nectar and is habitat for beneficial insects and bumble bees. Great for mixtures, see our CARGO mix.
Dutch White Clove
Excellent fast growing cover crop for between vegetable rows. It is lower yielding and shorter growing than other varieties in a pasture setting.
Ladino is a white clover with large leaves and taller growing stems, and will produce the most N per acre compared to other white clovers. Dense shallow roots protect soil from erosion and suppress weeds well compared to other white clovers. Ladino clover can fix 80 to 130 lbs of N per acre if left grown a year after establishment. As a cover crop it can be frost seeded into small grains or broadcast over vegetables in late spring. It will grow slowly and develop roots in the shade of another growing crop, then grow rapidly after crop harvest. Great for use as a living mulch and is a beneficial crop to attract bees for both nectar and pollen.
A spring or late summer cover crop that can be grazed. Establishes quickly and will develop a thick taproot that can penetrate and breakup plow pans. Its leafy growth is very competitive with weeds. Excellent for use as a winter-kill cover crop for early no-till the following year. When used in forage rotation, Daikons will “break” or disrupt pest and disease life cycles associated with typical grass-legume rotations. They are also effective nitrogen, phosphorous and calcium feeders and will recycle and accumulate these nutrients in the soil.
This radish variety also has a deep tap root, breaks up soil, acts as a bio-fumigant and weed suppressor, and scavenges nitrogen over the winter. It can double as a forage. Similar to Daikon Radish.
A black-seeded sunflower with small heads that gets 2-4 feet tall. Sunflowers provide a good way to grow a large amount of biomass as a cover crop while providing a wildlife refuge and breaking up pest and disease cycles in a grass-legume rotation.
A winter hardy winter annual legume that has the potential to produce 200 lbs of free nitrogen. Burn off or till into the soil after flower for high amount of free nitrogen. Best used in mixtures.
A new variety released by USDA that was bred for early flowering (about two weeks sooner than most hairy vetches) and better winter hardiness. This variety will shorten the wait for flowering to allow the next crop to be seeded sooner.
Most hairy vetch is sold as a variety not stated. There is lots of variation between seed lots of different origins.
A quick starting small grain that can be planted during many months except for during hot, dry periods. When planted in late summer, spring oats will typically winterkill, creating an excellent early no-till opportunity that quite often suppresses weeds.
A tall leafy variety that willshade out weeds better than many varieties. Use as a nurse crop with legumes.
Cereal rye or winter rye is one of the most cold tolerant of the commonly used cover crops and has been extensively used in a wide range of cropping systems.
Huron is a later heading rye and is our best choice for forage.
An inexpensive, quick growing annual utilized as a high quality forage crop or a cover crop. It can be overseeded into corn or soybeans or other vegetable crops. Ryegrass has an extensive root system that holds the soil in place, preventing erosion. It’s a very good nitrogen scavenger and grows organic matter deep into the soil. The dense root system improves water infiltration and builds soil tilth. If mixed with legumes it establishes quickly and acts as a nurse crop, which improves early season weed control and helps the legumes over-winter.
An excellent summer cover that builds soil health and chokes out most weeds.
Summer soil builder, weed and nematode suppressor, and subsoil loosener. Mix with brassicas.
YELLOW BLOSSOM SWEET CLOVER
A biennial clover that develops a strong, deep tap root and handles drought well and can break hard pans. As a legume, it also fixes nitrogen. Sweet Clover will grow in a wide range of soils but pH, as with most legumes, should be close to neutral (>6.5).