Cereals are cool-season crops that are usually seeded in the early spring or fall. When seeded during mid-summer, growth will be reduced by hot weather. Even so, cereals are relatively inexpensive, easy to establish and should still provide cover. Like the warm-season grasses, cool-season grasses may benefit from a nitrogen application. In addition, planting a cereal crop will help prevent "fallow syndrome." See Reduce the risk of "Fallow Syndrome" with a cover crop.
Spring cereals (oats, barley, spring wheat, spring triticale)Spring cereals that are planted in late June or July will likely develop heads, shatter and possibly produce volunteer plants. For this reason, winter cereals may be a better option if planted before August 1. Spring cereals planted in late summer should provide fall growth, but will be subject to frost and winterkill.
Winter cereals (rye, winter wheat, winter triticale)How the winter cereal will be used will determine the planting date. If the cereal will be used simply as a cover crop, it can be established anytime. It may provide some forage after November 1. Since they perform similarly, the choice of which winter cereal to use will depend on cost and availability. On the other hand, if the goal is to harvest a grain crop in the spring of 2015, then winter wheat should be selected. To reduce insect and disease problems, seed the crop after September 10 in Southern Minnesota, but check with FSA and your crop insurance agent for seeding date requirements. For a discussion on optimum seeding dates, see Tips for planting winter wheat.
Annual ryegrassAnnual ryegrass is also a cool-season grass that may provide some forage for November grazing, if planted in mid- to late-summer. It may benefit from fertilizer nitrogen
Annual legumes, such as berseem and crimson clovers and winter peas, are a good choice for green manure or forage when planted in early spring. Late summer establishment may provide some forage, but may not yield enough to justify the seeding cost. If planted after August 1, nitrogen contributions from these annual legumes will be negligible. As annuals, they are subject to frost and will not overwinter.
Perennial legumes (excluding alfalfa)
Red clover and vetch are examples of perennial legumes. Since these crops overwinter, they would need to be controlled before the spring 2015 crop.
Brassicas include forage turnips, forage rape and radishes. They should be planted from late July into August to optimize forage yield and quality for a November harvest. Turnip tops can be grazed approximately 45 days after planting. After one or two grazings, the field can be disked so the beets can be grazed. While beet tops have a relatively high RFV (150-250), yields are generally low.