Spring Cover Crops for Vegetable Rotations

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; gcjohn@udel.edu

One principle of managing for improved soil health is that you should always have a crop growing on the soil. This will maintain or add organic matter, provide benefits from the action of growing roots, and recycle nutrients.

Where fall cover crops were not planted due to late harvest, spring cover crops can be planted and provide some benefit where vegetables are not scheduled until late May or June. Cover crop options for early April planting include spring oats, mustards, and annual ryegrass. Plant oats at 90-120 lbs per acre, mustards at 10-20 lbs per acre, and annual ryegrass at 20-30 lbs per acre if drilled. Increase seeding rates by at least 50% if surface broadcast. These cover crops can be no-tilled into soybean or corn stubble.

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