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High Plains cover crop in fallow
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Posted 11/24/2021 10:55 (#9338546)
Subject: High Plains cover crop in fallow

Here in the high plains we typically have a fallow year prior to planting winter wheat. In a no-till system that requires chem fallow. Of course this costs money and time and now the "hard-to-control" weeds are getting harder to control. In particular kochia, cheatgrass and marestail. Also having what is basically a dead crop or no crop for a whole season is not helping soil development. We typically follow wheat with dryland corn, sunflowers or proso millet. So out of 3 years 1 year is fallow.

We are very interested in planting a cool season cover crop either into the corn/sunflower/proso stubble in the fall either right after harvest or late fall and the cover crop seed sprout and emerge in the early Spring. Our intention then would be to terminate the cover crop (perhaps hay or graze it) in mid-summer. With limited moisture (11-14" year) we have to be mindful of the need to terminate the crop early enough to recover some moisture prior to wheat planting in September.

Much of the experiences we hear about is back east where moisture is plentiful (or excessive) and the purpose of cover crop is somewhat different.

Where we have tried planting wheat behind peas, spring oat hay, proso, etc. has been less than stellar due to lack of moisture in the fall. Wheat yields are significantly lower unless we get lucky with some good rains/snow in the fall(which hasn't happened the last few years).

Interested to hear experiences from farmers in our area, what kind of cover crops, planting dates, weed control. We have to do something different with changes in weed control and need to make improvements to the soil (and bottom-line economics of course).

Also, any references to articles, papers, research relevant to our area would be much appreciated.

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