Cover crops are important tools and have various advantages for farmers transitioning from one season to the next. Eric Schavey, Alabama Regional Extension agent in Northeast Alabama, encourages hemp producers to plant their cover crops now before it’s too late in the season.
“If you get into November, you’re a little late. Your cereal rye will do a little better than your clover. That clover likes temperatures between 65 degrees F and 75 degrees F. Your grains are a little more hardy to cold temperatures,” said Schavey, who encourages producers to plant in late September or October. “I’m a big a fan of a cover crop. It just holds in moisture. It’s going to add to your organic moisture. It slows down erosion. To me, a cover crop is there and with our hemp farmers especially, there’s not those weed control options that our row crop farmers have. That’s been some of the challenges that they have is controlling weeds in our in-row in hemp.”
Cover crops planted in the row middles prevent sunlight from penetrating and allowing weed seeds to germinate.
Schavey said such problematic weeds include pigweed and goose grass. He also has certain recommendations when talking about cover crop implementation.
“I like using a cereal rye, not a rye grass but your cereal grains; also, your crimson clover is a good one. With those two, there’s the biomass that you get and their ease of growing there. They’ll grow in a lot of different soil types. That’s what I recommend,” Schavey said.
According to a prior Alabama Extension news article, cover crops are crops grown to benefit the following crop as well as improve the soil. They can protect the soil, feed the soil eco-system, increase soil organic matter and supply nutrients to the following crops.
The right cover crop can improve yields, soil and water conservation and quality and your bottom line.