Do you know your cover crops?

Can you tell the difference between annual ryegrass and cereal rye? How about radish and kale?

If you can’t, it’s time to bone up on your identification skills if you want to get serious about planting cover crops mixes on your farm, says Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soil management specialist Anne Verhallen. At the recent FarmSmart Expo in Elora, Verhallen quizzed farmers on their species identification skills and emphasized the importance of knowing what you’re growing.

“There are a number of different cover crops that are being used in mixes,” says Verhallen. “You can tell them apart at the seedling stage or shortly after the seedling stage. It’s important to know those stages and be able to recognize them at those points in order to craft your termination plan.”

In this video, Verhallen offers identification tips for nine different common cover crops and how growers can peg them at the seedling stage. One of those tips is how to tell the difference between ryegrass and cereal rye. “They are totally different grasses with very different control methods,” says Verhallen. “It’s importance to recognize the difference and recognize them when they are in the mix because that’s going to change the termination method.”

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