It has been a challenge for many producers to reduce weed production on prevent plant acres as rains continues to dampen fields this year.
Kent Vlieger, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil Health Specialist, Huron, SD, urges growers to forgo tillage and plant cereal crops to aid in controlling weeds this fall. “Planting a cereal crop this fall will compete with weeds, utilize excess moisture, and prevent erosion,” says Vlieger.
Eric Barsness, NRCS, Agronomist, Brookings, SD, said that there is still time to plant cover crops this fall, but only winter rye, winter wheat, and triticale. Barsness has actually seen producers plant up to the first of November and had success.
“The seeding rate will vary between 40 pounds per acre for most soil health purposes to 90 pounds per acre if spring grazing or reducing weed competition are the producer’s objectives,” says Barsness.
Despite the calendar date, Vlieger also agrees, that there is still time to plant a cereal cover crop such as rye or winter wheat and have plant growth yet this fall. He points to cereal rye as a crop that can put on growth in the fall as well as overwinter and regrow in the spring.
“Cereal rye will take up excess moisture, protect the soil from wind and water erosion, and build soil structure,” says Vlieger. He also stressed that getting something planted and growing this fall will aid in better planting conditions this spring.
Barsness commented that planting a cover crop will help the soil biology by having living roots — one of the five basic principles of soil health — in the soil system throughout the fall and then green up early into the spring.
“It is however, too late to plant winter kill species, such as radishes, turnips, clovers, and oats that will not survive a killing frost,” says Barsness.
The NRCS can assist growers in selecting cereal species to plant this fall or provide information on reducing weeds on prevent plant. Visit: http://bit.ly/SDCoverCrops for additional resources including a species selection chart.