Because they tend to have less freeze-thaw motion and also dry quickly in the spring, sandy soils are less conducive to frost seeding. Legumes and brassicas should instead be drilled into sandy fields in April, once the soil has dried enough to tolerate wheel traffic. If soil is marginal, increased seeding rates can compensate somewhat for lower germination rates.
Once frost seeded cover crops are established, control and termination options must be considered. Research at MSU has shown that mowing or grazing a frost seeded clover stand in mid- to late August can increase overall biomass yield and provide a valuable source of forage. Brassicas, however, will not regrow much after mowing or grazing. When it comes time to terminate a cover crop, tillage or various labeled herbicides can be applied. Ideally, termination is completed 10 days prior to the planting of a spring crop, such as corn, to maximize the uptake of legume nitrogen. However, some growers prefer to kill cover crops in the fall to avoid complicating the spring planting season. Herbicide rotation restrictions must also be considered.
Frost seeding cover crops can be thought of as making a down payment on the coming growing season, an investment that can reduce fertilizer needs, improve cash crop yields and protect environmental quality.
For more information on frost seeding, contact James DeDecker at 989-225-3221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Using red clover as a cover crop in wheat, Midwest Cover Crop Council
- Why frost seedings fail, MSU Extension
- March is frost seeding month in Michigan, MSU Extension
- Managing red clover that was frost-seeded into wheat, MSU Extension
- Prepare now to frost seed red clover into wheat, MSU Extension