Radish Cover Crops – “Overblown” Benefits Compared to Annual Ryegrass

Ron Althoff, a grower and seed distributor from Effingham, IL., says that the benefits of oilseed radish as a cover crop are overblown, especially if it’s planted solo as a cover crop. “Many are attracted to radish as a cover crop because it winterkills. They don’t want to deal with burndown in the spring, which you have to do with cover crops like cereal rye and annual ryegrass,” said Althoff.

“But the problem is, if radish is all you have on the field, you’re going to have bare ground in the spring, just when the soil is most vulnerable.”

He recommends…if you really want to use radish…that you use it with annual ryegrass in a cover crop mix.

“Mixes were predominant this year,” he added. “While I sold a mix with radish included, it was mainly annual ryegrass and crimson clover that I recommended. If you’re going to go with only one cover crop, growers will get more bang for the buck with annual ryegrass. But adding clover, you can gain lots of nitrogen that’s available later for your corn.

He added that because of the late harvest and dry conditions, most growers applied the cover crop seed by plane.

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