“TO PLANT GREEN OR NOT TO PLANT GREEN”
USDA/NRCS District Conservationist – Springfield, TN
I will preface this article, by saying that after you read this, you will not have the “one size fits all” answer! With more growers planting cover crops as part of a soil health management system, I get this question a lot. “Should I plant green or wait for the cover crop to completely terminate?” My answer most of the time, like many things in production agriculture is, “it depends”. Cover crop management strategies will be different for every grower depending on equipment capabilities, field conditions, inherent soil properties, weather conditions, and the list goes on.
Generally, I tend to lean toward my answer being, plant green, especially with corn. In late March and April weather conditions are usually wet and soils tend to be “heavier”. Planting green takes advantage of the cover crop still being able to pull moisture out of the soil as it slowly dies. This has proven to be very beneficial, especially on river/creek bottoms and poorly drained soils. When cover crops are terminated early, they will continue to hold moisture, which in turn can greatly increase the amount of days it takes before field conditions are right to plant the cash crop. I have noted while working with experience growers that planting green provides better closing of the furrow and less hair pinning.
If you are going to plant green, my guidance is usually to apply herbicides 1-2 days before or after planting. Depending on weather forecast and inherent nature of soils, we have some growers delaying termination up to a week to allow the cover crop to pull out excess moisture. I usually discourage growers from planting into cover crops when they are “yellow”, I have seen this method cause planting issues in the past, like not being able to properly cut through the residue and causing some hair pinning issues.
As far as soybean planting goes, I feel like there are usually less complications with terminating cover crops 2+ weeks prior to planting. From mid-May through June we usually have less rain and warmer temperatures as compared to late March through first of May. Depending on planter set up and whether you have access to an implement to roll down the cover crop, covers can get so big that I have seen issues planting through cover crops that are chest to head high. I always promote as much biomass as practical for successful planting to provide lasting residue throughout the growing season to conserve soil moisture, reduce soil crusting and keeping the surface aggregated to facilitate infiltration for those much-needed summer showers. Like green planting corn, this is usually a case by case basis; based on field conditions, what was in the cover crop mix and how thick the stand is.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I would not be giving you a “one size fits all” answer and if someone tells you they do have that “one size fits all” answer, I would be very leery! Whether we are growers, private agricultural consultants, agronomists or soil conservationists our job should be to give others information and tools to help them make informed economical decisions to rejuvenate degraded soils and have a healthy productive crop.
Do you like to garden? Help support the health and wellness of your neighborhood and community by sharing your harvest through the ‘Plant a Row for the Hungry Montgomery’ Campaign. As local gardeners enjoy the abundance of their spring harvest, the UT/TSU Montgomery County Extension and Master Gardeners in the Clarksville TN area are asking residents with excess garden produce to consider donating it to local food banks. According to the Society of St. Andrews webpage, the amount of food already wasted in the U.S. this year: 44,712,941,965 pounds. This waste happens in the fields, transportation, supermarkets, restaurants, and homes. At the same time about one in seven Americans is considered food insecure. This number of people in lines for food assistance has increased substantially due to the COVID19 pandemic. These are people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own: restaurant workers, dog walkers and house cleaners, the people who cut our hair or polish our nails. This list goes on and on.
In Montgomery County, early gardeners are harvesting cool-season vegetables and fruits such as strawberries, radish, various greens, spinach, onions, beets and so much more that are especially plentiful this time of year. As the weather gets warmer, our gardens will soon flourish with tomatoes, peppers and sweet corn as well as blueberries, blackberries and such. Late summer and early fall will offer peach, apple and pear; and, oftentimes these trees produce more fruit than one person can make use of. Rather than letting these nutritious fruits and vegetables go to waste, residents can donate them to food banks, ensuring that everyone in our community has access to fresh, seasonal fruits all year long. Anyone with excess backyard produce is encouraged to donate, regardless of the size of the donation.
The Society of St. Andrews Gleaning Program helps bridge the gap between local food surplus and food insecurity by working with Tennessee farmers, ranchers and backyard gardeners to collect fresh fruit and vegetables that might otherwise not be used or have a market and distribute them to those in need. Farmers are encouraged to participate and should contact Second Harvest Food Bank or Society of St. Andrews to organize large donations.
Fresh produce is a vital part of any healthy diet, and too often it’s a sacrifice people make when money is tight. Donations made by local farmers and gardeners like these do much more for the community than simply feed the hungry; they also work to break the systemic cycles of poverty by exposing a wide range of people to the many benefits of locally grown food.
• Plant an extra row of food in your garden dedicated to ‘Plant a Row for the Hungry Montgomery’.
• Harvest and donate the produce to food pantries located throughout the county.
• Volunteer to help harvest food from local farms, orchards, and backyard gardens who participate in Society of St. Andrews Gleaning Program
• Donate seeds, soil or plant starts to be distributed to Plant a Row for the Hungry Montgomery gardeners (contact Karla directly).
• For more information or to sign up for the program visit: https://extension.tennessee.edu/Montgomery/Pages/plant-a-row.aspx
• Drop off produce at a participating food bank and log your pounds donated at site above!
Local Participating Food Banks: *If you would like for your food bank to be involved, please contact Karla Kean*
217 S. 3rd Street, Clarksville TN
Drop off times: Monday – Wednesday; 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Loaves and Fishes:
215 Foster St, Clarksville, TN 37040
Drop off times: Monday – Saturday; 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
605 Providence Blvd, Clarksville, TN 37042
Drop off times:
Monday – Friday; 10:00am – 4:00 pm
Plant a Row for the Hungry Montgomery Campaign Contact:
Karla Kean, UT/TSU Montgomery County Extension Agent
931-648-5725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Montgomery Co. SCD has a NEW C & M two row no-till tobacco SETTER available for Montgomery and surrounding counties! Check our equipment rental page and facebook page @MCSCD to catch the news along with a HALF OFF deal for the FIRST 4 USERS to sign up!
SIGNUP DEADLINE MAY 1, 2020!! The Conservation Stewardship Program – RCPP (CSP-RCPP) helps you build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation. Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions, increases crop yields, or develop wildlife habitat, we can custom design a CSP plan to help you meet those goals.
Just a few of the practices eligible for cost share under this program:
- E612G – Tree/Shrub planting for wildlife cover
- E612G – Tree/Shrub planting for wildlife food
- E612C – Establishing tree/shrub species to restore native plant communities
- E528G – Grazing management for improving quantity and quality of cover and shelter for wildlife
- E528D – Grazing management for improving quantity and quality of food for wildlife
- E528E – Grazing management for improving quantity and quality of plant structure and composition for wildlife
- E512G – Native grasses or legumes in forage base
- E512F – Native grass or legumes in forage base to provide wildlife food
- E512F – Native grasses or legumes in forage base to improve plant community structure and composition
- E512F – Native grasses or legumes in forage base to improve plant productivity and health
- E512H, E511B, – Forage plantings that enhance bird habitat (cover and shelter)
- E511A – Harvest of crops (hay or small grains) using conservation measures that allow desired species to flush or escape
- E390A – Increase riparian herbaceous cover width for nutrient reduction
- E386E, E386D – Enhanced field borders to increase wildlife food and cover along the edge(s) of a field
- E327A – Conservation cover to provide habitat continuity for pollinators and beneficial insects
- E327A – Conservation cover to provide cover and shelter habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects
- E327A – Conservation cover to provide food habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects
- E327B – Establish Monarch butterfly habitat
- E315A – Herbaceous weed treatment for plant pest pressures that helps create desired plant communities and habitats consistent with the ecological site
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SIGN UP FOR THIS PROGRAM BEFORE MAY 1, GO HERE. YOU CAN ALSO SIGNUP VIA CLIENT GATEWAY HERE.