Cover Crops

Cover crops are a valuable management tool for conventional and organic vegetable growers alike. Cover crops can improve soil quality by preventing erosion and nitrate leaching, by providing nitrogen and organic matter to the soil for the subsequent growing season, and by reducing weed, disease and insect pressure. Interest in cover crops is growing in Tennessee, partly due to costsharing programs offered by various agencies, which help growers cover a portion of the seed cost. One challenge to successfully using cover crops is timely planting.

Fall cover crops are usually planted following the primary vegetable growing season. Timing is important for proper establishment of cover crops, and mid-September through mid-October is the ideal time to sow these crops in Tennessee. However, the fall cover crop planting timeline overlaps with a productive season for many vegetables, and sowing during this window may be difficult depending on fall precipitation and temperature.

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