QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Cover Crops in High Tunnels
Question of the Week:
We’d like to work in cover crops to our high tunnel rotation, but we’re not sure exactly what to plant or when to plant compared to our open fields. Do you have any resources on that?
It’s a great idea to incorporate cover crops into your high tunnel rotation. High tunnels (HTs) can provide for year-round production in our region, but soil quality can suffer with back-to-back planting of cash crops. Adding cover crops into the rotation can provide many benefits, including adding organic matter and nitrogen and suppressing weeds. The timing and cover crop selection, however, can vary from field crop production. In the Southeastern region, there is typically a six- to eight-week window in summer that provides a good opportunity to grow a cover crop before fall cash crop plantings. In our just released Warm-Season Cover Crops for High Tunnels in the Southeast publication with the Center of Crop Diversification, we outline several warm-season cover crops that may be used in high tunnels in the Southeast, along with their benefits and challenges, based on trials in KY, TN and GA.
If you’re planning for fall or winter cover cropping, we also have a publication on Cool-Season Cover Crops for High Tunnels in the Southeast.