A cash crop that’s known for being tricky to no-till may still have potential in a no-till system as a cover crop.
Although it’s still a work in progress, Scott Wohltman, cover crop lead for La Crosse Seed, says the company has been looking at sugarbeets as a cover crop because it can tolerate difficult environments such as saline soils, provide high forage quality and avoid problems with herbicide rotations.
There isn’t a lot of information yet about the use or benefits of sugarbeets as covers when compared to more common covers like cereal rye or daikon radish. But there’s plenty of information about sugarbeets as a cash crop, especially in terms of the chemicals that can be used within a rotation, Wohltman says.
“One of the challenges we see is a cover might not meet expectations, or might not get established, because the farmer didn’t take into account the previous herbicide out there,” he says. “There’s a lot of information that’s still not known on how quickly you can plant a radish, turnips or crimson clover after some of these herbicides, because the testing hasn’t been done. With sugarbeets there has been more testing done.”
Because genetically modified sugarbeet traits are also available, it offers no-tillers the possibility of handling weed issues without having to worry about killing off the cover crop.
“Using the technology of Roundup tolerance, my position is that sugarbeets will be more of a player going forward,” Wohltman says. “If you seed…