The most important of the non-leguminous crops
are rye, buckwheat, turnips or rape, barley, oats, and millet. The
first mentioned are the most commonly used. Also in order of
importance the following are the usual leguminous cover and green
manure crops to be used:
clovers, winter vetch, soy beans, alfalfa,
cow peas (first in the South). In order to determine the relative
advisability of the use of these various crops let us now look at some
of their characteristics and requirements.
Rye is one of the best non-leguminous cover crops, especially in the
young orchard, as it does not grow as well in shade as in the open. A
particularly strong point about rye is that it grows rapidly quite
late in the fall and starts early in the spring. Starting earlier than
most crops in the spring, it makes a considerable amount of growth
before the land is fit to plow. Especially in warmer climates rye
should not be sown too early in the fall--not usually before September
1st--because of this too heavy growth. Rye is also adapted to a great
variety of soils and hence will often grow where other crops will not
do well. About two bushels of seed are required per acre.
Buckwheat is probably about equally as good as rye for an orchard
cover crop, although it does not produce quite as much organic matter.
It will germinate at almost any season of the year even if it is very
dry. It is a great soil improver because of its ability to feed and
thrive on soils too poor for other crops, due to its numerous shallow
feeding rootlets. It grows rapidly and covers the ground well, but
like rye does not thrive as well in shade. Buckwheat should not be
used to excess on the heavier types of soil as it is rather hard on
the land. One bushel of seed to an acre makes a good seeding.
Turnips or rape often make good pioneer cover or green manure crops.
They are great soil improvement crops and it is comparatively easy to
secure a good stand of them even in dry weather. Sown in late July in
the North they will produce a great bulk of humus and add much
moisture to the soil, especially if they cover the ground well. Their
broad, abundant leaves and high tops also hold the snow well in
winter. Cow Horn is the best variety of turnips to use, as it is a
large, rank grower. Use one to two pounds of seed to the acre. Rape
makes an excellent pasture crop in an orchard both for sheep and hogs,
but especially for the former. Eight or nine pounds of seed are
necessary to the acre.
Barley, oats, and millet are not as good crops as the foregoing,
because, with the possible exception of millet, they make their best
growth early in the season. Moreover they take up too much moisture
from the soil at a time when the tree most needs this moisture. In
fact they are sometimes used for this specific purpose on wet land in
too wet seasons. Two to two and one half bushels of oats or barley and
one to one and one half bushels of millet to the acre are necessary
for a good seeding.
Although weeds can hardly be classified as cover crops, they are often
valuable ones. They grow rapidly and rank, making a large bulk of
humus, without the expense of seeding. If they are not allowed to go
to seed so as to scatter the seed about the farm, they often make the
best of cover crops. This necessitates a mowing in September. Weeds
are plants out of place, and when these plants are in place they are
not necessarily weeds, as they have then become serviceable.
Previous: Manuring And Fertilizing
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