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NC State Extension

Managing Cover Crops

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We have categorize cover crop managements with a focus on benefits for soil Health and Soil Organic Matter within four different regions of North Carolina – Tidewater, Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Mountains.

Tidewater region ( with dark mineral soils and organic soils prone to wind erosion, poor drainage, frost heaving) 

Fall/Winter crops Spring/Summer crops
Legumes (can help with wind erosion- need early planting for sufficient growth) Hairy vetch (suited to poorly drained soils than crimson clover, More N supply than clover, rye, resistant to fluctuating climate)
Small grains (helps against nitrate leaching) Fescue (Cool season grass, can be grown in fall/winter in Blackland and mineral soils- tackles water erosion, suited in corn-soybean rotation) Barley ( As a companion crop with vegetable crops in spring, as windbreak)
Cereal rye ( tolerance to wet and acid soils, help against wind erosion in muck soil) Forage soybean (suited to wet soils, should be avoided with cash crop soybean)
Wheat (help against wind erosion in muck soil) Coastal bermudagrass ( suited to dark surface mineral soils)
Oats
Alkaligrass ( can grow in wetland marsh areas)
Brassicas (reduction in nitrate leaching) Daikon radish
Other brassicas (Canola, Turnips, Kale, Collards, Mustards)

Coastal plain region- Low residual N, sandy soils prone to wind erosion, E horizon prone to compaction

Fall/Winter crops Spring/Summer crops
Legumes Hairy vetch (suited to sandy soils, moderate biomass in NC and high nitrogen) Cowpeas ( good erosion control, not suited to wet conditions)
Crimson clover ( more and faster dry matter prodn. in spring, erect growth-easy to manage, crimson clover-late spring crops, crimson clover-no till corn, good for reseeding) Soybeans (Better aggregation- enhanced water infiltration)
Austrian winter pea ( frost damage prone, but can be planted in both west (early), east (late) Sunn hemp (Better aggregation- enhanced water infiltration)
Cahaba white vetch (not winter hardy, can be planted in winter of warmer region) Velvet bean
Blue lupine ( adapted to slightly acid soils)
White lupine
Small grains (suitable for late planting in CP region) Cereal Rye (soil erosion resistance in sandier coastal plain soils, early fall growth, reduces nitrate leaching from surface waters) Sorghum sudangrass ( greater density, height- wind erosion control, than all millets) 
Oats ( More biomass than wheat and barley, better for mixture with legumes) Sorghum
Wheat ( Hessian fly prone- late planting after first frost in winter can help) Browntop millet
Triticale (deep roots can help break compaction) Japanese millet
Annual Ryegrass Pearl millet ( suited to acid, droughty soils)
Brassicas Daikon radish ( Deep rooted- breaks compaction, and nutrient scavenging)
Other brassicas ( Canola, Turnips, Kale, Collards, Mustards)
Broadleaf plants Sunflower
Buckwheat ( help break surface crusting)

Piedmont: Have more clay, Requires Cold tolerance/ winter hardiness, Hessian fly issue

Fall/Winter crops Spring/Summer crops
Legumes Common vetch ( more and earlier growth than hairy vetch in winter, suited to all well drained coarse and fine textured soils) Cowpeas
Hairy vetch (more winter hardy than crimson clover and winter peas) Soybeans (Better aggregation- enhanced water infiltration)
Crimson clover (suited to well drained soils, tolerant acidity) Sunn hemp (Better aggregation- enhanced water infiltration)
Balansa clover (most winter hardy, not suited to sandy soils)
White lupine ( more winter hardy than blue lupine)
Winter peas (prone to nematodes/pathogens, prone to freeze damage, but can be used if planted early in winter before frost)
Small grains Oats (less susceptible to hessian fly, more biomass than wheat) Sorghum sudangrass ( greater density, height- wind erosion control, than all millets) 
Barley ( similar biomass as oats, but prone to hessian fly) Sorghum ( produce good biomass with late summer plantings before frost)
Cereal rye Pearl millet (suppresses nematodes, more acid tolerant)
Annual ryegrass
Triticale
Wheat ( prone to hessian fly, less biomass than oats, triticale and cereal rye)
Brassicas Daikon radish (can scavenge high residual N if present in soil)
Other brassicas (Canola, Turnips, Kale, Collards, Mustards)
Broadleaf plants Sunflower
Buckwheat

Mountains: Have more clay, Requires Cold tolerance/ winter hardiness, Hessian fly issue

Fall/Winter crops Spring/Summer crops
Legumes Common vetch ( more and earlier growth than hairy vetch in winter, suited to all well drained coarse and fine textured soils) Cowpeas
Hairy vetch (more winter hardy than crimson clover and winter peas) Soybeans (Better aggregation- enhanced water infiltration)
Crimson clover (suited to well drained soils, tolerant acidity) Sunn hemp (Better aggregation- enhanced water infiltration)
Balansa clover (most winter hardy, not suited to sandy soils)
White lupine ( more winter hardy than blue lupine)
Winter peas (prone to nematodes/pathogens, prone to freeze damage, but can be used if planted early in winter before frost)
Small grains Oats (less susceptible to hessian fly, more biomass than wheat) Sorghum sudangrass ( greater density, height- wind erosion control, than all millets) 
Barley ( similar biomass as oats, but prone to hessian fly) Sorghum ( produce good biomass with late summer plantings before frost)
Cereal rye Pearl millet (suppresses nematodes, more acid tolerant)
Annual ryegrass
Triticale
Wheat ( prone to hessian fly, less biomass than oats, triticale and cereal rye)
Brassicas Daikon radish (can scavenge high residual N if present in soil)
Other brassicas (Canola, Turnips, Kale, Collards, Mustards)
Broadleaf plants Sunflower
Buckwheat