cover crop mixtures
There are a variety of different types of cover crop seed mixtures that suit the needs of a variety of different types of farmers. Picking the right mixture is important to maximize your output and help give your field the best protection.
Spring plantings are commonly utilized to jump start soil biology after a long cold winter. These cover mixes are used to 'prime' the soil biology ahead of a later spring planted crop. Spring mixes are also used in the western Great Plains as a 'fallow replacement' where a living cover provides extra residue and biological diversity for the soil. Moisture used by the cover crop is usually gained back later in the summer through increase infiltration and decreased evaporation.
Timing: Seeding will typically occur once soil temperatures can sustain 40°F and field conditions are dry enough to allow traffic. Greater diversity can be added to these mixtures if planting date is dealayed until close to frost-free date.
Early Summer Mixtures
Early summer plantings are commonly utilized as a forage source for livestock when summer heat begins to reduce cool season grass and forage production. These mixes can also be used on prevented planting acres to add biological diversity, suppress weeds, and produce nitrogen and cycle nutrients during the prevented plant year.
Timing: These mixtures consist primarily of warm season species so the soil temperature need to sustain 55-60°F and the last frost risk has passed.
late summer mixtures
Planting covers after a summer harvested cereal crop is one of the best opportunities to implement a very diverse cover mix into a cropping system. Converting the ample hours of summer sunlight into forages and soil nutrients is one of the best ways to improve the biological health of your soil. With so many cover crop options to choose from, these mixes will be driven by your specific goals.
July August Planting: With ample heat units remaining, warm season species will dominate these mixtures. Cool season species can thrive under a partial canopy during this time as well but are generally a smaller percentage of the mix.
August/ September Planting: At this point in the season, warm and cool season species can be effectively used together. Warm season species will decline after the first killing frost leaving the cool season species to continue to thrive and be productive.
Green Cover Seed's SMARTmix Calculator is a great tool that makes finding the right cover crop mixture easy. Having the farmer select their needs and priorities allows the calculator to customize mixtures that provide the most benefits and protection to the field. Click here to try out the Calculator.