With spring weather finally here, last week we planted our cover crop for no-till corn trials as well as spring cereal grains for grain production.
We continue to forge forward with developing a system for organic no-till corn! As a review, in 2017 we tried to no-till corn into a living cover of spring peas and spring planted chickling vetch. Pod stage of the cover crops (the appropriate time for mechanical termination of legumes) did not occur until mid-June, so we made the decision to roll the cover crops after corn planting, when the corn was emerged, but the growing point of the corn was still underground. Unfortunately, the result was many weeds, but not a lot of corn.
This past week we planted TS7 maple spring peas1 (150 lbs/acre), which we will roller-crimp and try no-till corn again. With this year’s delayed spring, we may run into the same issue of late planting, but this variety of pea is supposed to produce more biomass faster – and so we are optimistic. We will also try rolling the crop prior at early bud stage to try to accelerate maturity.
We also put in clover as a spring planted cover crop this year. We planted two different clovers – balansa clover (10 lbs/acre) and medium red clover (15 lbs/acre). Both were planted with 45 lbs/acre of buckwheat. Clovers can take some time to establish so we hope that the buckwheat will help control weeds until clover emergence. When the time comes to plant corn the buckwheat should be easy to terminate with the roller-crimper. We hope to terminate or smother the balansa clover this way. We plan to use a high residue cultivator to terminate some bands of the red clover, into which we’ll plant the corn – strip-tilled system.
In our small grain field, we planted barley (134 lbs/acre- a bit over the 120lbs target) and oats (100lbs/acre). Some of the barley and oat plots were underseeded with Southern Belle Red Clover2 (14 lbs/acre). This red clover was bred for the southern states and should not over-winter at our latitude – our plan is to no-till corn into it in 2019.
Other oat plots were underseeded with White Dutch Clover (3 lbs/acre). Our longer-term objective here is to mimic the system that the Idea Farm Network was funded to trial3 (NS-SARE grant award). This fall, we will terminate some bands of clover into which we will plant corn in 2019.
We also have winter cereal grain cover crop in the ground. Last fall we had two planting dates (9/15 and 10/2) for the triticale and one of the rye varieties (Spooner). Below is a photo of these plots taken this week. There is a big difference in ground cover. Hopefully we get enough biomass in all these plots for another successful year of no-till soybeans!
Any questions, comments or concerns are welcome. We wish you success in your spring operations!
1 Saddle Butte Ag Inc.
2 Allied Seed, LLC – Thank you, Lisa Kissing Kucek for the idea !
3 Contact Will Glazik for more info