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Who seeds a cover crop into standing beans?


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I was down at my other place over the weekend which is across the road from a several hundred acre crop farm. This year they had soybeans on it and were combining it the day I was there. One minute it was a brown bean field and the next it was a beautiful green pasture. It was pretty amazing to see and I am guessing they had it seeded by crop duster. That's the first time I've seen that and was wondering how common it is.  The were using a JD combine, I think an s680, it was hard to see the number with a very wide Macdon draper head. There were a lot of grass clippings coming out the back with the bean residue. It was taking 30-45 minutes to fill the combine tank and about a minute and a half to unload into the tractor trailer parked right across the street from my place.  Most of the farming around here is livestock related so I really enjoyed getting to see this up close.

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Did 320 acres of rye, flown into soybeans last week of August. Took beans off last of Oct/early Nov. Looked like my yard. Many others were broadcasting mid to late Oct, still not emerged. I like as much growth as possible on my rye.

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I don't have any personal experience with it but several around here have done aerial seeding prior to harvest.  This year very little germinated as there was not much rain during harvest to get the seed incorporated and started.

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Very interesting subject. My Dad use to sow lespedeza into winter wheat. When time to harvest wheat he just combined  the heads and left the straw standing. Shortly after, he came back and cut the wheat and lespedeza with mowing machine, raked and baled for winter feed. 

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I have thought about flying a crimson clover mix into my soybeans before harvest.  I just put 20 acres of rye out for the 1st time.  I think if I put wheat into my rotation, then just drilled a clover mix it would be better than flying it on.

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5 hours ago, 2+2 Guy said:

I tried it this year with mixed results. Didn’t get enough rain and I should have seeded it sooner than I did. Will try it again next year. 

I go earlier than most simply for that reason, learned that back in the 80s. Caught a couple showers in early Sept that got it going.

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1 hour ago, IHandJDman said:

I have thought about flying a crimson clover mix into my soybeans before harvest.  I just put 20 acres of rye out for the 1st time.  I think if I put wheat into my rotation, then just drilled a clover mix it would be better than flying it on.

I help out a friend of mine with fieldwork in exchange for beef and pork. All of his fields are split in half and he rotates his ground every year with small grains with clover followed by corn the next year. He plants clover with his small grains at a rate of I think two pounds to the acre, basically as low as the drill can plant it. He estimates that he is getting about 75 pounds of nitrogen from the clover when he plows it under the following year when he preps the field for corn. He's also seen additional benefits in weed control and the clover keeps the deer from hitting the corn as much. He also figured that if he is running short on hay he could put some up if he needed it. That might not work for everyone but it seems to be working good for him.

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So flying seems silly to me.  Alot of waste and $.  Why not inner seed it in?  A rotary hoe type thing and seed drops. Here for 20 years we've cultivated in Italian rye when we side dress a pick me up of N in early july.  Then we go and cut it in spring for heeaaavvvy and sugary silage.  Last season 1 or 2 even got a cut after chopping the corn!  If spring is  nice nice weve gotten 2 cuts then plowed under.   Then this year....we had alot of rain and it got away from us on low fields.  Headed out and tipped over.....was a mess.  We didnt want it for dairy so sold (gave) it to beef guy.  He made 380 silage marshmallows.  Got the grass off so it could dry.  We then sprayed with tractor n 3pt booms and got it worked....laate.

Normallllly its a great deal.  We even will apply a little manure in spring for the rye to really fill in.

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16 hours ago, Jesse in WI said:

I've always wondered on covers that are flown on or broadcast after harvest without any other operations done what is your approximate germination rate?

We did some work at the time of "planting" this year on what actually hit the ground.  In corn, only about half ever hit the ground.

This year the beans were 50% foliage and the corn was half dead.  I think it was around Sept 24.  Last year we seeded on Sept 19.  We make the decision based more on the weather forecast (and airplane availability) than we do crop maturity.

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39 minutes ago, TroyDairy said:

Couldnt you just spin it on after harvest?

You can and many do that around here.  But depending on the year you often don't get much germination, either because of late harvest and cold temps or because of lack of rain.  If it's not growing in the fall in my opinion it's a waste of money.

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7 hours ago, TroyDairy said:

Couldnt you just spin it on after harvest?

Yes, a lot done that way. A lot that was done that way not emerged yet and we have lows in the 20s and 30s with snow cover. What i flew on is 5 inches or longer on the blade length. I am not in a cost NRCS share program. Many guys who "spin" it on get a payment that pays them very well for their seeding work through USDA programs. They sign a 3 yr contract to do it around here.  As i pay for mine i like to reduce risk by early seeding. 

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8 hours ago, TroyDairy said:

Couldnt you just spin it on after harvest?

I do on beans some times (actually drill it), it depends on the bean planting date and how the year is progressing. (Forgive the tractor color in the drilling picture (LoL)!

On corn,  it's very seldom that I would get it on soon enough to get it established in the fall.  The helicopter pictures were taken in early September when the corn is still very green (you can see the field in the background in one picture).  Early September is as as early as I can get the cover crops and the corn herbicide to  "play nice together".

The tillage radishes on the truck tail gate were dug in late fall or early winter before a hard freeze ..... they were flown on.  I know everyone does things different,  but the cover crops work like a ripper for me with a lot less work and time invested.

IMG_4192 (600 x 450).jpg

IMG_3403 (600 x 450).jpg

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4 hours ago, Mark (EC,IN) said:

I do on beans some times (actually drill it), it depends on the bean planting date and how the year is progressing. (Forgive the tractor color in the drilling picture (LoL)!

On corn,  it's very seldom that I would get it on soon enough to get it established in the fall.  The helicopter pictures were taken in early September when the corn is still very green (you can see the field in the background in one picture).  Early September is as as early as I can get the cover crops and the corn herbicide to  "play nice together".

The tillage radishes on the truck tail gate were dug in late fall or early winter before a hard freeze ..... they were flown on.  I know everyone does things different,  but the cover crops work like a ripper for me with a lot less work and time invested.

IMG_4192 (600 x 450).jpg

IMG_3403 (600 x 450).jpg

Tell us more about the tillage radishes.  Do they open up a soil enough to help the wet spots drain?  Remember that people used to plant sweet clover or alfalfa so the roots would help drainage, but would it take a couple of years. Could the radishes do the same in row crops each year?  Have some flat bottom ground (mostly no till) that needs either pattern tile or something like this to help water to soak in.

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14 hours ago, E160BHM said:

Tell us more about the tillage radishes.  Do they open up a soil enough to help the wet spots drain?  Remember that people used to plant sweet clover or alfalfa so the roots would help drainage, but would it take a couple of years. Could the radishes do the same in row crops each year?  Have some flat bottom ground (mostly no till) that needs either pattern tile or something like this to help water to soak in.

Will the radishes replace tile.........NO.  

They do help water get into the soil but it still has no where to go.

The radishes have a hairy root that penetrates well below the tuber,  so they do act much like clover and alfalfa.

I used some Rape one year (it really penetrates the soil with long roots),  but it proved a little hard to kill in the spring.

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