IN YOUR ORCHARD
THE BEE BOX
Tips and Tricks for Planning and Planting Cover Crop If you’ve never tried to cover crop, it can seem a little daunting, but it shouldn’t be. In this article we will go over a few helpful tips and tricks to help growers begin the cover crop journey or even assist seasoned cover croppers in honing their skills.
Cover cropping is essentially adding a new tool to your orchard toolbox. Like any tool, there are a few suggestions that can help with implementation and success. Be patient as you begin the journey, knowing that you will probably make some mistakes along the way. The cover crop tool can be an effective one for many underlying issues growers face in their orchards, but it’s not a silver bullet and it has to be managed well.
when done right, they yield big successes and paybacks, and can cut out other expensive and time-consuming tasks. Like any good management program, it’s only as good as what you put into it. The same is true with cover crop and everything starts with the fundamentals of planning. Planning June through September is the time to start the planning process for your cover crop planting and season. This is when Seeds for Bees has its open enrollment period, when we send out seed, when we seek to give technical consultations to growers prior to planting, and when we begin finalizing all the necessary aspects that go into planting after harvest. In our new Seeds for Bees Management Quick Guide , we start planning for planting in the early summer when our application opens for Seeds for Bees. There are three fundamental questions at this point in the planning period: 1. How much seed do I need? The answer is dependent on planting method, seeding rate, and width of planting in orchard alley, to name a few. 2. What kind of planting method will I utilize? Broadcast, grain drill, no-till drill, etc. 3. What kind of mix do I want to plant? A mixture of multiple families of seed or just a straight one-family mix like our Pollinator Brassica. Once these questions are answered, you are well on your way to a successful planting.
Credit: Project Apis m.
I like to encourage growers to think of cover crop as a part of a holistic management program, something like their IPM or even a nitrogen or water program. In my view, there’s a big difference between planting a cover crop, and managing a cover crop. Management programs like nitrogen or IPM require time, thought, and proper execution to do correctly;
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