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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The last couple of years, I have planted buckwheat in early June to help improve my soil. I drag the soil with a drag harrow, broadcast the seed (40 lbs/acre), drag an old spring mattress over it to get the seed down a bit, and then roll with a lawn roller. It barely germinates/takes, and when it does, it's in the groove that the drag harrow created.

My soil is slightly acidic, and sandy. Rye takes just fine in it, as does oats and wheat. Any clue what I'm doing wrong here? I had a soil sample a couple of years ago, and I know sandy soil lacks certain nutrients, but I figured it would take since rye does. Maybe the summers are too hot and dry compared to fall plantings? Any guidance/suggested changes would be great.

- CB
 

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Buckwheat seed recommended planting depth is 1/2”-1-1/2”. In sand germination is better at 1-1/2” since it doesn’t hold moisture as well as loamy soil.
 

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I have been planting buchwheat the last few years also and have had mixed results. The first year it came up great and then the deer really hit it hard. The second year I didnt think it came up at all but when I walked my field it was all small stalks and realized that the deer didnt let it grow. Last year I planted memorial day weekend (Osceola county) and we had a frost shortly after that killed most of my crop. Also, if your broadcasting the seed and not drilling you might want to plant at a heavier rate. I usually go with close to 60-70lbs per acre rate. It could be one or more of these issues.
 

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If he’s in northern LP or UP, that might be too early. Still a risk of frost in May
In 2019, our BW crop had a significant frost kill on June 1st or 2nd.. Just south of Cadillac. Was planted in perfect weather about a week or so earlier, in an effort to double crop for soil building.

Now we wait til after June 1st or later if the calendar works out.




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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So for all of you utilizing buckwheat, are you dragging the seed in each year you plant? I'm trying not to turn over our soil too much because it's so sandy and I want to maintain some decomposing plants at the top to retain moisture and provide nutrients. I don't have a cultipacker- just a lawn roller. So broadcasting on the surface and rolling won't get it deep enough, like Jeff Sturgis suggests. I have been thinking about getting a Packer Maxx, but they are pretty expensive.
 

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So for all of you utilizing buckwheat, are you dragging the seed in each year you plant? I'm trying not to turn over our soil too much because it's so sandy and I want to maintain some decomposing plants at the top to retain moisture and provide nutrients. I don't have a cultipacker- just a lawn roller. So broadcasting on the surface and rolling won't get it deep enough, like Jeff Sturgis suggests. I have been thinking about getting a Packer Maxx, but they are pretty expensive.
Based on my research (not personal experience) I think* Jeff says to broadcast it into the remaining standing fall crop (which is why he overseeds rye in September) and then roll and terminate with glyphosate. So instead of dragging in the buckwheat seed you're using the rolled and terminated fall cover crop to retain moisture and cover the seed. I'm not sure cultipacking the broadcasted buckwheat into bare soil alone wouldbe all that effective
 

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I see a lot of guys struggling with spring/early summer buckwheat plantings...late frosts kill it....deer wipe it out before it ever has a chance to become thatch or a cover crop for mid-summer brassica plantings. For whatever reason, buckwheat often fails to live up to its potential to help build organic matter, provide a weed and moisture barrier for your next crop, etc. Sometimes it works out fine, but often it does not. Just look at the posts above to see what success rates have been. Believe me - I've been there and done that myself...several times over the years.

I now rely on fall planted rye as my forage and cover crop of choice and I have been so much happier with the results. Fall planted rye provides great fall/early winter and spring forage for your deer. However, once it gets beyond being palatable in late spring the deer don't bother with it, yet it continues to grow - creating great biomass and thatch which is what we are looking for in building organic soils. If you want to add a little clover and maybe some hairy vetch to the fall planted rye, you will have some legumes to add Nitrogen to your soil for follow up plantings...and your deer can forage on those after the rye plays out.

Here is an example of what I am describing in a plot where I planted brassicas last year:

This is what my fall planted rye looked like on July 8th...

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If you planted a little clover in with the rye last fall you might see some of this...

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same thing if you added hairy vetch...

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A roller/crimper would be the ideal implement to terminate the rye in preparation for planting my brassicas...
But I don't have a roller/crimper...

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So I improvised with my cultipacker... Certainly not as efficient but I knocked the rye down just the same...

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Amazing! Late frosts didn't hurt this cover crop at all...neither did hungry deer have any impact on it at all.
I've got a great deal of thatch and biomass to provide, "armor" for my soil, weed barrier, moisture barrier, erosion control, temperature control on my soil, ... and as it breaks down and degrades it will be putting nutrients back into my soil - free fertilizer. What's not to like about that?

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I drilled my brassica seed into the thatch the next day - July 9th. If I didn't have a drill I could have just as easily broadcasted the seed into the thatch. Tiny brassica seeds have no trouble at all finding their way to the soil when it rains. Here it is on July 15th - only 6 days later and I have germination.

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Here it is 2 weeks later on July 31st.

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Sure...you can use buckwheat for a cover crop, and if late frosts or hungry deer don't wipe it out you will be fine. But for me....I just find fall planted rye to be so much more reliable.

Just an alternative for you to think about for this coming fall.
 

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Cereal rye has an extensive root system that pulls nutrients closer to the surface. If you are not harvesting seed or straw those nutrients are just recycled back into the plot.
 

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In 2019, our BW crop had a significant frost kill on June 1st or 2nd.. Just south of Cadillac. Was planted in perfect weather about a week or so earlier, in an effort to double crop for soil building.

Now we wait til after June 1st or later if the calendar works out.




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It pays to look at historical last frost dates for any area when planting frost sensitive crops.
 

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Another alternative for using rye as a soil builder....
I have posted these photos before so many of you have probably already seen them, but for those who maybe haven't:

Here are 2 sections of a food plot where I left the fall planted rye standing. This is what it looked like in early June when I mowed the left side to prepare for planting pumpkins.

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Lots of thatch/biomass to help build organic matter and provide a weed barrier, etc, for my pumpkins. Note that the section in the far end of the field is still standing...

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At this early stage of development (June 9th), the seeds are not yet mature. They will not germinate so you can just mow (or roll) them down and not worry about volunteer rye taking over.

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Here is the rye seed on July 21st. Now we are getting beyond the "dough" stage and the seed is becoming viable.

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Here is the other section at the far end of the above photos on July 31 when I decided to mow it...

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At this point, the seed heads will break apart as you mow and you have thousands of viable rye seed hitting the ground...or landing on top of your mower deck as I have here.

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Here is what the plot looked like on September 13th - 6 weeks later. I did nothing to this plot other than mow the standing rye on July 31st (or maybe a few days later). I didn't fertilize it, I didn't add any more seed...I didn't do anything other than mow it in late summer...

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Here is the same plot on September 24th. A nice lush plot of fresh rye which fed my deer all fall...early winter....and early spring. In late spring, I sprayed the rye to terminate it and drilled sugar beets into the thatch. It really doesn't get much easier than that.

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Wild Thing, when you plant rye in the fall, is it in a clean field or are you overseeding into an existing food plot?

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In standing brassica plots I will usually just broadcast rye into it so I don't destroy the brassicas.

In a lot of cases my beans will have been hammered pretty well over the summer so if I don't think I am going to get much for pods I will just go ahead and drill my cereal grain crop right into the standing beans. It really doesn't actually hurt the beans as much as you would think so the deer still have beans to forage on (until the leaves turn brown) and they also get the rye, brassicas, etc (whatever I have included with the rye for my cover crop).

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Cover crop of cereal grains, brassicas, clovers, etc drilled into beans which had been hammered by deer.

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Last year I drilled my cover crop over the previous year's cover crop. I mowed it first, waited for the volunteer rye to germinate, nuked that rye because I was planting a 12 seed cover crop and didn't want to have too much rye.

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The right side of this plot had been planted to brassicas but after it came up I noted a Pigweed infestation which I wanted to eradicate right away so I nuked the entire plot. The dark brown plants you see here are the dead Pigweed. I went ahead and drilled my cover crop into this section as well as I still had 2 other brassica plots.

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This is what it looked like after spraying one day and planting the next...(brassica side on the right had been sprayed a couple weeks earlier).

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Here is what it looked like 2-3 weeks later..

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So, I guess to answer your question 12 Point, I plant my cover crops over existing crops. I don't really have any "clean fields" as I haven't turned any dirt in over 5 years - since I went to the no-till drill. Everything I plant is either drilled or broadcast.
 
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I havent had much luck with getting a good rye crop to come up the following spring after a fall planting. Not really sure why, but they are always spotty. I would guess its our heavy clay (and often wet) soils. I plan to experiment a little more this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
In standing brassica plots I will usually just broadcast rye into it so I don't destroy the brassicas.


WT- so you plant rye(and possibly clover/hairy v) in the fall, let it grow in the spring, drill brassicas in late July, broadcast rye over the brassica in early Fall, then do it all over again the next year?

You mentioned mowing/rolling rye when the seed heads become viable to become volunteer rye. How do you decide if you do that versus planting brassicas?
 

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WT- so you plant rye(and possibly clover/hairy v) in the fall, let it grow in the spring, drill brassicas in late July, broadcast rye over the brassica in early Fall, then do it all over again the next year?

Yes - except for 2 things you mentioned. I plant brassicas in early to mid-July up here in the U.P. And...I don't exactly do it all over again the next year because I will rotate my brassica plantings to the other side or a different plot the next year, and will likely plant either beans or a cover crop where the brassicas were the next year.

You mentioned mowing/rolling rye when the seed heads become viable to become volunteer rye. How do you decide if you do that versus planting brassicas?


I will decide that ahead of time based up my crop rotation. If I am planting brassicas I will terminate the rye in early July before the seeds are mature. I can spray, mow or roll and I still won't get any volunteer rye coming up. If I want to let a plot go for fawning or turkey bugging I may decide to leave the rye go and just mow it in August when the seeds are ripe and get a free crop of winter rye.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@Wild Thing so my plots are fairly skinny so doing half brassica half rye won’t work. Would be tough to keep separated, and I’m guessing more prone to grazing? The deer eat everything to the ground where I am.

Would you rotate rye and brassicas each fall? And top dress with rye over the brassica as needed? I don’t have a drill. Just a quad, lawn roller, hand sprayer, and earthway spreader.
 
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