# Blue Diamond Almond Facts July-August 2022

1. How Much Seed Do I Need? How much and what kind of cover crop will depend on many factors. Generally, this can be answered when the grower decides how they will plant—by what method/ implementation, plus answering what the corrective goals for the soil may be. If you are doing a no-till drill with a 5-foot planting width, for example, you will need to run some math. The basic formula is this: cover crop planted width divided by the tree row width (the distance across the rows, not down the tree line). This will give you a percentage of the acreage needed to plant the whole. Then multiply that by the overall tree-planted acres of the orchard, followed by the seeding rate. Let’s run an example: It’s your first year planting cover crop. You want something easy, something that will take off, break up compacted ground, decrease nematode population, and get some deep taproots in the ground for water penetration. A straight brassica mix is chosen for all these reasons. You find access to a no-till drill that will plant one pass in 5-foot lengths in their 22-foot tree-to-tree across orchard alley and is planting a 100-acre block. Here’s the basic formula: Planting width ÷ by tree-to-tree spacing across x total orchard acres = cover crop acres to be planted This is then multiplied by seeding rate of mix and method chosen. In this case, you’d need 23 acres of seed, planted at an 8lb rate, so it would be 8lbs x 23 acres, or 184lbs of seed needed for the planting. Of course, another option would be to do a double pass and get 10 feet of cover crop in the alleys, which would then just double the cover crop acreage, multiplied by the same rate with this seed mix. 2. What Kind of Planting Method Will I Utilize? Every grower will have to answer for themselves what kind of method of planting can be utilized for their orchard. We suggest trying to find a no-till drill as this is one of the most

effective methods for a good germination, but others can have great success too if other factors are done well. For example, if you cannot find a planting drill of some sort, a broadcaster on the back of an ATV has worked well for many of our growers, especially if they follow that up a pass with a spare piece of chain-link fence after the broadcast.

3. What Kind of Mix Do I Want to Plant? If you are new to planting, I would suggest you start with a straight brassica mix of some sort, like our Pollinator Brassica. It has three mustards, a canola, and a radish. This is an effective mix to start with because the brassica seeds are small and relatively homogeneous in size (makes things easy with planting method), brassicas have a generally strong germination, take in any Central Valley scenario, and grow on relatively little amounts of water. Brassicas offer tremendous soil health and bee health benefits, too. Once you are walked through these basic questions of planning, things start to make sense. And once you plant the first year, the second year becomes a breeze. We are here to consult you to make sure you are on the right path for a successful cover crop stand this year. Photos: Left: the short and compact Land Pride PS15 Series has a chain link attached by the grower to help cover the seed once its set. Right: grain drills can also be used in the orchard if the bottom branches of the canopy will allow, and many times produce a wider planting width with one pass. Credit: Project Apis m.

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JULY–AUGUST 2022

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