COVID-19 Extension Updates and Resources ... More Information »

Close message window

Cover Crops for the Fall

Crimson clover attracts pollinator insects like the honey bee. Millie Davenport, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Crimson clover attracts pollinator insects like the honey bee.
Millie Davenport, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Planning to leave the vegetable garden fallow this fall? If you take the time to plant a cover crop instead, you will reap the benefits later. In general, cover crops protect the soil from erosion, suppress weeds, maintain soil moisture, increase organic matter, and recycle nutrients. But for the best success, you must select the correct cover crop species for the job. At this time of year, cool-season annuals work best. These include Austrian winter pea, crimson clover, annual rye, oats, forage radish, and winter wheat.

Potential Benefits of Each Species

Austrian Winter Pea & Crimson Clover (legumes)
Nitrogen source, erosion prevention, soil builder, and attracts pollinators

Annual Rye (non-legumes)
Erosion prevention, soil builder, nutrient scavenger, and suppresses weeds

Oats (non-legumes)
Erosion prevention, soil builder, good nitrogen scavenger, and suppresses weeds

Forage Radish (non-legumes)
Excellent nitrogen scavenger and subsoiler, and suppresses weeds

Winter Wheat (non-legumes)
Erosion prevention, soil builder, nutrient scavenger, and suppresses weeds

Crimson clover growing next to winter wheat in the spring. Millie Davenport, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Crimson clover growing next to winter wheat in the spring.
Millie Davenport, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Note the forage radish’s long tap root which can help alleviate soil compaction. Millie Davenport, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Note the forage radish’s long tap root which can help alleviate soil compaction.
Millie Davenport, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Legumes should be planted 6 to 8 weeks before a killing frost, and non-legumes should be planted 4 to 6 weeks before a killing frost. See the chart for mixed planting rates. For more information on cover crops, see HGIC 1252, Cover Crops, and Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Third Edition.

Suggested Mixes Seeding Rate
(per 1,000 sq.ft.)
Austrian Winter Peas
and Winter Wheat
2¼ lbs.
2¾ lbs.
Crimson Clover
and Annual Rye
8 oz.
6 oz.
Crimson Clover
and Oats
8 oz.
1½ lbs.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

Factsheet Number

Newsletter

Categories

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This