Typically, cover crops are sown in the fall and rototilled under the following spring. However, fallow ground can be covered with plant material for a year or more before plowing under.
Crops should be chosen carefully to avoid a potential weed problem down the road. While the crop can be plowed under, it may set seed or reproduce through root cuttings.
Common winter cover crops include: rye, wheat and ryegrass. Most are sown between August and September to allow for fall growth.
Summer cover crops include oats, soybeans and buckwheat.
Other plants used for cover crops include alfalfa, clover (red, alsike, alyce, crimson, sweet), barley, bromegrass, lespedeza. Most are sown in the early spring and plowed under in the fall.
Mowers are used to cut the crop prior to tilling in. Go over the crop several times with a rototiller to incorporate the green crop thoroughly into the soil.
Articles in this collection were copyrighted 1995 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For full copyright information about the articles in this encyclopedia, click here.