As harvest progresses for our major commodities, it is time to start planning and planting cover crops. Cover crops offer many benefits to agronomic systems, including erosion control, improvement to soil health, nutrient retention and additions, and weed suppression. How do we maximize these benefits? A key component is finding the right species, and varieties within those species. Just like corn, soybean, and cotton, that “right” variety is going to depend on your region and cropping system.
To help our growers find the best cover crop varieties for their region and system, we have been running a cover crop variety trial in Tennessee since 2019. We are excited to collaborate with the Southern Cover Crops Council this year to expand this trial and cover a 10-state region in the South. If you are in AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, TX, or VA, we’ve got you covered! In this year’s report, you will find information important to maximizing those cover crop benefits, including cover crop biomass, canopy cover, and estimated nitrogen release, along with forage quality values for those who may be using cover crops for grazing (IVTDMD, CP, ADF, NDF, Lignin).
This past year was an odd one, with a cold snap in December that burst pipes across the South and was not so kind to some of our cover crop species. This does not reflect a typical year (at least I hope that isn’t our new normal!). For information on some of those more cold-sensitive species, looking at previous year’s reports may be helpful.