Sunflower ? the ideal UK cover crop ?

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
Thinking that sunflowers could be the ideal cover crop for us here ? established in August they will get great growth before winter putting a lot of OM back into the soil ?

should be quite cheap as well ??

what do you think ? I know multi species mixes would be better but they come at a cost
 

BSH

Member
BASE UK Member
I have only had mixed success with them when using them in wild bird seed mixes. Whether that is because of the mix of seeds and sowing depth issues I am not sure? The rooks also loved them! Anyone else had good experiences?
 

Steevo

Member
Location
Gloucestershire
I'm unconvinced that a single species cover crop is the right was forward and I can see a lot of merit in Pedders idea of seed mixes. That way you get cover at all levels, ground, 30cm high, 60cm high etc. Also, not every season will suit one species, so at least a mix will enable some to thrive whatever the weather may throw at it.
 
Steevo said:
I'm unconvinced that a single species cover crop is the right was forward and I can see a lot of merit in Pedders idea of seed mixes. That way you get cover at all levels, ground, 30cm high, 60cm high etc. Also, not every season will suit one species, so at least a mix will enable some to thrive whatever the weather may throw at it.

Yep a mix everytime I'd say. Get some other warm season annuals in there! Go down the health food shop for some ideas..
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
Steevo said:
I'm unconvinced that a single species cover crop is the right was forward and I can see a lot of merit in Pedders idea of seed mixes. That way you get cover at all levels, ground, 30cm high, 60cm high etc. Also, not every season will suit one species, so at least a mix will enable some to thrive whatever the weather may throw at it.


I agree they are better but they are quite expensive it has to be said - not that I'm suggesting they are not great value, just that I'm being tight !
 
I'm farmer in South West of France, and I produce Sunflower in my fields.
There is a problem with sunflower as cover crop, it's the sclerotinia (I don't know if it's the same word in English).
So, you have to use it carefully before beans, rapeseed or other sensitives crops.

That's why I don't want to use sunflower in my cover crops.

(excuse me for my poor English) :|
 

Andy Howard

Member
BASE UK Member
Location
Ashford, Kent
sunflowers in pedders mix did very well last year in a warm open autumn and were flowering in november. This year they did sod all!! Would not want to plant an single species cover for me it misses the whole point of adding diversity, also spreads the risk. Vetches and radish did well in both years.
 
DP32 said:
I'm farmer in South West of France, and I produce Sunflower in my fields.
There is a problem with sunflower as cover crop, it's the sclerotinia (I don't know if it's the same word in English).
So, you have to use it carefully before beans, rapeseed or other sensitives crops.

That's why I don't want to use sunflower in my cover crops.

(excuse me for my poor English) :|

What mixtures do you find work for you DP32?
 
I want to precise that I have started with cover crops in my fields in the summer 2011, so I haven't got a good experience of them.

In my fields, I use a mix of hairy wetch and sillage sorghum.
It seems to be well adapted to my conditions and produce an interesting volume, even in dry conditions.

I sow that "mix" just after the wheat harvest (begining of july), and it is possible to have more than 2 meters high three month after.
 

Great In Grass

Member
Location
Cornwall.
The 'Dwarf Type' sunflower would be one to go for, usually fungicide treated as opposed to the untreated standard type. Slugs however love the young seeds and probably not applicable here sunflowers are vulnerable to wireworm.
 

Elmsted

Never Forgotten
Honorary Member
Location
Bucharest
Can't think of a year in the last 25 that I have not grown them commercialy. Would not attempt it North of Paris. AS DP32 says mixing them in a rotation with rape has disease implications. But if you want to try then grow them in a mix of species. Maybe vetch would be very good. They will grow in crap conditions soil wise. Commercialy weed control is/was a nightmare. But the weeds and them lived along side fine.
In your scenario probably need about 100,000 per hectare. Also do dress seed with Gaucho.
 

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