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Crops in the CropSys CAP

List of Current Cover Crops

Cover Crop SpeciesVarietySeeding Rate (lbs./A)Information

Sorghum Hybrid BMR

Pampa verde Pacas 25 Warm-season annual; High biomass yield; Drought tolerant.
Foxtail Millet Siberian 40 Warm-season annual; Matures quickly in the hot summer months; Low water requirement
Teff Tiffany 8 Warm-season annual: emergency hay
Forage Triticale VNS 60 Cool-season annual; High forage, silage yields and quality
Cereal Rye (Winter) ND Dylan 40 Cool-season annual; Winter hardy; Scavenge excess N; Prevent erosion; Add organic matter; Suppress weeds
Winter Wheat Jerry 60 Cool-season annual; Erosion control; Nutrient scavenger
Forage Barley Hays 40 Cool-season annual: Erosion control; Salt tolerant
Forage Oat Waldern 40 Cool-season annual; Suppress weeds, Prevent erosion; Acceptable biomass yield
Annual Ryegrass Tetraprime-Italian 20 Cool-season annual; Improve soil structure and drainage; Emergency forage
Turnip Purple Top 3 Cool-season annual; Reduce compaction; Weed suppression; Late-season forage
Radish Soilbuster 5 Cool-season annual; Soil cover; Scavenge nutrients; Suppress weeds; Reduce compaction; Late-season forage
Rape Dwarf Essex 8 Cool-season annual; Reduce compaction, Increase infiltration; Late-season-forage
Ethiopian Mustard PGG 8

Cool-season; Suppress weeds;

Frost hardy, Nutrient cycling
Mighty Mustard Kodiak 20 Cool-season; Erosion control; Pollinators, Weed suppression; Active against nematodes
Mighty Mustard White Gold 20 Cool-season; Erosion control; Pollinators, Weed suppression
Kale Maris Kestrel 8 Cool-season annual; Full-season forage
Winter Camelina Joelle 5 Cool-season annual; Winter hardy; Improve biodiversity; Pollinators; Nutrient cycling
Pennycress Vofiy 5 Cool-season annual; Winter hardy; Improve biodiversity; Pollinators
Forage pea Aryika 60 Summer or winter annual; N source; Weed suppressor; Forage
Austrian Winter Pea VNS 60 Summer or winter annual; N source; Weed suppressor; Forage
Faba Bean Snowdrop 20 Summer or winter annual; N fixer; Pollinators
Hairy Vetch VNS 20 Summer or winter annual; N source; Weed suppressor
Lupine White 60 Cool-season annual; Forage; Susceptible to fungal and viral diseases
Chickling Vetch VNS 40 Cool-season annual; N producer; Living mulch
Crimsom Clover Kentucky Pride 20 Summer or winter annual; N source; Soil builder; Erosion prevention; Pollinators.
Balansa Clover Fixation 10 Summer or winter annual; High N2 fixation; Winter hardy in the Midwest. Adapted to a wide range of soil types; Pollinators.
Berseem Clover Frosty 10 Summer annual; Suppress weeds; Prevent erosion; Green manure.
Red Clover Dynamite 10 Biennial or winter annual; N source; Soil builder; Pollinators
Cowpea Iron & Clay 20 Summer annual; Suppress weeds; N source.
Buckwheat VNS 35 Summer annual; Suppress important root pathogens and weeds; Mobilizes P; Pollinators
Phacelia VNS 10 Summer annual; Improve biodiversity; Pollinators
Holy Thistle VNS 2 Summer annual; Oilseed, Medicinal properties

Winter Camelina

Camelina [Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz] also called false flax, linseed dodder, or gold-of-pleasure is a short-season annual oilseed crop in the Brassicaceae family with agronomic low-input features that has been produced for the oil in Europe for over 3000 years (Putnam el al., 1993, Zubr, 1997). Popularity of camelina has increases due to its unique oil composition, biofuel properties, potential for feed or food, and winter hardiness. Camelina has the ability to adapt across many environments, allowing its cultivation from Canada, Northern and Central Plains, and into the Corn Belt region (Gesch et al., 2014). This can be attributed to camelina’s relatively high level of tolerance to drought and low temperature stress. Because of camelina’s desirable agronomic traits, further research is being done to improve wide adoption of cultivation and cover crops use.

Winter Cereal Rye

Rye (Secale cereale) is the most common and reliable cover crop in the upper Midwest because it is one of the few cover crops that can successfully establish when planted late in the growing season, it is winter hardy throughout the region, and accumulates meaningful amounts of biomass before spring planting of the subsequent crop. Winter rye is the hardiest of cereal crops and can be seeded later in the fall than other cover crops and still provide considerable dry matter. It also has an extensive soil-holding root system that can lead to significant reduction of nitrate leaching. It is widely adaptive, growing best in cool, temperate zones, but having the ability to perform in infertile, sandy or acidic soil, and poorly prepared land. Rye can establish in very cool temperatures and will germinate as low as 1°C and vegetative growth only requires 3°C. With vegetative growth still active at near freezing temperatures, winter rye has a longer time to establish after germination, which is an important factor in North Dakota. With longer time for biomass growth, rye can be a good weed suppressor in the spring.

Winter rye as a cover crop is proven to have the ability to be integrated into existing corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean production systems, feasibly implemented over large areas, and have been highlighted as a cost-effective strategy for improving environmental stewardship. Rye is the best cool-season cereal cover for absorbing unused soil NO3-N. It has a fast growing fibrous root system, which helps scavenge for residual NO3-N throughout the soil profile. Where rye has been overseeded into soybeans in August, leaching losses from September to May has been shown to be less than 5.6 kg of nitrogen (N) per ha-1. Rye has also shown increases in the concentrations of exchangeable potassium (K) near the soil surface by bring it up form lower in the soil profile.

Field Pennycress

Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), is self-pollinating, winter annual oilseed crop. Native to Eurasia, pennycress is highly adapted to the temperate regions of North Americas making it suitable to withstand the winter hardiness needed for the Northern Great Plains. It is currently being researched for use as a feedstock for domestic biodiesel production, as its seeds have high oil content and unsaturated fatty acids. Pennycress seeds are planted in late August-early September, germinate and develop into a rosette that overwinters in this stage. This winter habit allows pennycress to be utilized in a relaycropping system. Pennycress then flowers and develops seeds in late April-early May and is ready to harvest in early June. In the fall of 2013, a multifaceted pennycress breeding program was initiated at the University of Minnesota and has developed the first genomic resources for this exciting species which has aided in its rapid improvement.

Faba Bean

Faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is grown worldwide as a protein source for food, is used for animal feed as a replacement of GMO imported soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] meal, and it is the most common cover crop in cereal-based cropping systems in Europe (Jensen et al., 2010); although it is hardly known or used in the USA. Including faba bean as a cover crop after wheat or intercropped into corn could grant beneficial late season grazing, increase N credits to the next crop while also reducing leaching of soil mobile nutrients, and create over winter cover to help protect soil. Because of these possible late season benefits, further research will be done to learn more about the possible uses and implementations of faba bean as a cover crop.

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