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Best Cover Crop for a Clover Plot:

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J.R. from Ohio asks, 

Topic: Best Cover Crop for a Clover Plot:

Cover Crop for Clover

Winter Peas can be a very good late summer planting that will serve as a decent cover crop for clover. It won’t come back the next spring. However, winter peas are susceptible to deer browse pressure when they are establishing. If you have a lot of deer, this may not be a good cover crop option.

I have about 3/4 of a acre to plant. I want to plant clover late august I missed the spring plant. I want to put some sort of cover crop with it, to where the cover crop won’t come back in the spring.

That way I will have a huntable food plot this fall. I would go in and frost seed clover again in the spring. I don’t have access to a disc, so I can’t put seed in very deep. Any thoughts on the cover crop I should plant?


Bill responds,

J.R.

It would not be good to plant the clover in August and then also frost seed it during the winter. It is never wise to put down too much seed or your will stunt the crop. I would not frost seed it, assuming the seeding you do in August is done correctly. Now as for your cover crop: you have only a couple of decent options, but nothing that does what you are hoping for.

Possibly you could plant Winter Peas with the clover, but the deer may hit that pretty hard in September when it is just getting started (you can try and find out – I guess). Winter Peas won’t come back in the spring. Otherwise, you have something like Big N Beasty or a cereal grain (such as winter wheat or oats). Here are the tradeoffs: Big N Beasty will shade out the clover and that will reduce your germination and growth on the clover. Winter wheat will come on strong in the spring. Of course you can always mow it to remove it at that time.

Another good option for you might be clover seeded with Frigid Forage Wild Game Buffet. This blend has a small amount of brassicas built in and all the clovers you want. It grows fast and would provide some forage for the fall.

Another option is to plant the clover and a 75% rate of Autumn Quick Plot. Part the blend are winter cereal grains that will grow back in the spring. But you should be able to easily remove them in early June with a mowing. That is probably the direction I would go.

You are going to need to do some kind of tillage, however, to get any peas or cereal grains to grow. You can’t just throw them out, no matter how well you kill the weeds first. This whole project (including planting the clover) will work best if you do some kind of tillage to assure good seed to soil contact – even if you just rent a garden tiller. That way the seeds can at least find some crevices to fit into and will germinate quickly on the first rain.

Another option is to just plant the Big N Beasty this summer and frost seed the clover in February, but the clover will not be nearly as thick in the following summer as it will be if it gets established this fall.

Hopefully, I didn’t overload you with too much information,but those are basically the tradeoffs you are looking at. Good luck. (6-26-17)

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