Summer Cover Crop Trial Jan 2014.
The garden sized trial for early 2014 is sown, and watered, finally. So it will be a “February germination” trial.
And from past lessons learned, the walk rows are wide, I can and will irrigate it at the turn of a tap, they will be labelled, and it will be fenced. And I sowed individual trials and plenty of mixture. I still sowed in a chaff trail and in wheel tracks.
It has been hot and dry, the wheat stubble is short, the soil was mostly friable.
My hypotheses are:
– that the chaff trail will need weeding of wheat,
– it should be too early to germinate the autumn weeds (eg ryegrass) but ripe for the summers (heliotrope, melons, bindii if any, etc)
– the plants in the header wheel tracks will suffer
– the heat and moisture will aid a good germination rate, (they are sprouting as I type) unless the seed is too close to the surface.
-unless we do get a rain predicted this weekend, I won’t have to worry about eventual ester drift wiping out all the legumes.
The mix includes: tillage radish, some amaranths, guar, sunn hemp, butterfly pea, adzuki beans, rice beans, burgundy beans, mung beans, pigeon pea, sunflower, safflower, winfred canola, chias, African marigolds, cowpeas, lab lab, french white millet, shiroie millet, pearl millet, red panicum fox millet, panorama fox millet, kenaf, Ultrafeed, and Kow Kandy.
I also predict the winfred and burgundy beans will be unimpressive, and everything will look like it needs fertilising – because nothing gets anything. More than that, this ground is, IMO, chemically infertile, far off “Albrecht style balanced”, and hardpanned. Having said that, the topsoil shows evidence of some biological activity. And I say all that because if we think growing a good winter crop is difficult, try sowing a summer crop with a 4 day germination window with potential heatwaves to follow.
Another impression I got this time was, dry sowing this seed would be easy, by disc or tyne. But if we get a summer rain and we want to get everything sown, how will a disc go while the soil, and soil cover, is still wet? What is the experience in the Americas in sticky soils?
I know that by irrigating it well the trial will not simulate normal conditions. Too bad – our last two summers have been dry, and we know what grows in a hot dry summer. The power bill.
Let’s see what happens this year.