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Choosing cover crops: Think like a plant!

Choosing cover crops: Think like a plant!

By Dean Baas and Elizabeth Schultheis

It may seem like a challenging task to select the right cover crop species for your cropping system. There are many variables to consider, such as what crops you are growing, available planting windows and your soil health needs. A new video, released by Michigan State University Extension cover crops and soil health team, discusses one important factor to consider: the life cycle of the plant.

Every species has its own cycle of growth, setting seed and senescing that it will attempt to go through no matter when its planted. It is important to make sure you are planting a species that grows best and at the appropriate time of year. For example, summer annuals, like buckwheat and oats, will grow best in the summer and do not tolerate cold temperature. These species will reproduce during the summer period and be killed off by frost. The video below discusses “thinking like a plant” as you consider how a cover crops natural cycle will affect its performance.

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