Plant Cover Crops This Fall for Better Soils in 2021

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Hi, this is Richard Boylan with N.C. Cooperative Extension of Watauga County to discuss planting cover crops now for better soils in 2021. Such green mulches will reduce weeds and enrich the ground during times the garden is otherwise idle. Options include nitrogen-fixers such as Crimson Clover, Winter Peas, or Hairy Vetch planted before the middle of September at 15-50 lbs. per acre. The lower-quantity is best for mixing with a grain cover crop such as wheat or barley at 80-100 lbs. per acre. Fields planted to such legumes or mixes should grow to full flowering the following Spring to maximize nitrogen fixation.

Image of crimson clover

Crimson Clover

By late October, Cereal Rye is the cold-tolerant choice at about 120 lbs. to the acre. Ground getting only Cereal Rye is good for earlier working the following season.

Image of rye in a field

Cereal Rye

In Springtime, cover crops can be tilled under, covered for several weeks with a tarp, or killed by other methods. For information about such options, call the Watauga County office at 828-264-3061.