Growers who terminate their cover crops two to three weeks before planting may have the best of both worlds — plenty of biomass from the dying vegetation to help their soil but not enough to interfere with seeding the commercial crop.
But there’s another alternative cotton producers may want to consider as they plant their cover crops this fall, according to Tyson Raper, Extension cotton and small grains specialist with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.
“Recently, a local producer here, Matt Griggs, has looked at strip termination, which is a treatment that will actually terminate the cover crop right in the furrow about six weeks before planting in a strip between 6 and 12 inches wide,” said Raper, a speaker at this year’s online Milan No-Till Field Day.
“This will allow the biomass in the middle to continue growing,” he said. “That really bridges the two treatments I’ve been talking about — the six weeks prior to planting and terminating at planting.”
Having that strip terminated means growers are removing the biomass from the furrow, he noted. “So we may potentially have some weed issues in the furrow, but we get suppression in the middles. It seems like a great way of keeping biomass in the system and generating a great deal of biomass overall while minimizing the risks associated with the planter attachments.
“We’re not accumulating biomass like we would in the planting green treatments.”
Growers will have to slow down to work with the strip termination system. Most farmers who are using the method in west Tennessee are running a hooded rig and dropping a post-directed nozzle down to get the strip right over the furrow.
“That obviously takes some time,” he said. “But, again, I think there’s a lot of potential there. For those who are just getting into it and want to push that cover crop to grow right up to planting I think that’s a great possibility.”
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