Summer Cover Crop Trial Feb 2014 Week 2

Summer Cover Crop Trial Feb 2014 Week 2

After week 1 the weather was cooler, not many days over 30C.  These tropical plants still grew noticeably.  It made me wonder if I had, again, missed the boat for a real summer growth test ie planting anytime in Dec.

ImageAdzuki Beans,coming along better than I expected.

ImageAfrican Marigolds, Crackerjack, making a good start.

ImageBlack Chia, progressing nicely.  Small plants coming from small seeds is to be expected after 2 weeks.

ImageBurgundy beans.

ImageButterfly pea.  If these grow well, it will be for the first time.

Clitoria ternatea  is the scientific name.  I just love to say it.  Look it up to see why it is named so.  It is a pity they will hardly flower enough to demonstrate it.

ImageEbony cowpea.  Sown right in the chaff trail, I tried to weed it a bit, but the wheat crowds it easily.

ImageFoxtail millet.  All the millets can be distinguished from wheat by the leaf and plant shape.  I’m glad I sowed them in rows though.   In the mixtures the grasses are not so easy to identify.

ImageFrench white millet, being consistent with the identifiable leaf shape.

ImageGrain amaranth.  It didn’t germinate very thickly, and I don’t have high hopes for its potential.

ImageGreen amaranth.  Although with red leaves I wonder if something got mixed or mislabeled.

ImageGuar.  At this stage the plants had germinated well and were growing well.

ImageThe poor lone Kenaf seed is still keeping up with the rest.

Image Kow Kandy.  At this stage very few plants of anything were taller than the 1-2 leaf wheat plants.  The odd Kow Kandy plant was taller with a different colour.

ImageLab Lab, still being comparable to the cowpeas.

ImageAmaranth, Love Lies Bleeding.  Still a very small plant, but growing nicely.  Unless they thrive in an earlier summer planting, I get the impression we would have to be keen to keep any amaranths in the mix, if for the sake of producing biomass.

ImageMung beans.  At this stage, looking good, comparable to sunn hemp.

ImageFoxtail millet, panorama.  At this stage, looking similar to wheat.

ImageParsely, the ‘just for fun’ wildcard.  Slow to germinate, which by itself cuts it off a list of potentials.  Maybe I’ll stick to sprinkling seed over the lawn, to make it smell good at mowing.

ImagePearl millet.  To be fair, since all millet seed is small, and some smaller than others, I reckon I sowed them too thickly, resulting in overcrowding, and not being a fair test to the growth potential.  It may have been an overwatering issue, but some patches look a big Nitrogen hungry.

ImageRed Caloona cowpea, comparable to ebony.   Their leaves follow the sun like sunflowers.

ImagePigeonpea are a skinny unimpressive plant, trying to grow tall.  For all the size and number of seeds sown, few germinated, and my past history with them has me skeptical.  But the seed is readily available, and popular globally, so still worth a shot.

ImageRice beans.  Another tall skinny plant, but my best year for them to date.

ImageSafflower, as always, looking good so far. wk 2 shiroie shirohie millet

Shiroie or Shirohie millet. wk 2 sunflower Aussie gold

Sunflowers.  Ever wk 2 sunn hemp


Sunnhemp.  I don’t suppose we could ever get it to grow to the 2m height. wk 2 tillage radish

Tillage Radish. wk 2 ultrafeed sorghum

Ultrafeed. wk 2 unknown amaranth

The mystery cv amaranth. wk 2 white chia

White Chia. wk 2 winfred brassica

Winifred brassica. wk 2 mix 4

Mixtures, sown thickly. wk 2 mix 3 wk 2 mix 2And the other spots of mixtures.  One got a ‘night watering’, one got overwatered, one underwatered with bore water and hence the salt was visible on the soil surface, resulting wk 2 mix 1in stunted growth.  In all the plots the wheat, even out of the direct chaff trail, came up like a brush, some I weeded, most I left for realism.  It says a lot about chaff spreading (or burning) being the first step for no till cropping.

As I post this I have just taken pics of week 5, and have observations on the freshness of mixes vs monocultures. I also rejoice in not having lambs getting into the only green feed on the farm, and curse the long-toothed grumpy dumb alpaca who could get in to… well he reiterated some things I have heard before, and he heard things I am sure he has heard before.  But that is for a later post.

The really good news is that the lambs by tomorrow morning should be on hooks somewhere, so apart from hares, the plot is safe.

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About covercropper

G'day, I'm a grain grower in the NW Wimmera area of Victoria, Australia. This blog is to share my journey of exploring cover cropping here, mostly summer mixes /cocktails. How to, what, when, will it work in improving our soils, productivity and profits?
This entry was posted in Method, Seed, Summer broadleaf spp, Summer grass spp, Summer legume spp, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Summer Cover Crop Trial Feb 2014 Week 2

  1. Jeremy Bradley says:

    G’day covercropper. Our group up here on the NSW mid north coast is real keen to try tillage radish and any other new soil-builder, forage and cover-crop. Where can we get seeds?

  2. Pingback: NYJER in a cover crop cocktail mix | Aust Cover Crop

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