Last weekend I was cutting out some brush and trees along a drainage ditch and I noticed these big turnips in the field. After the peas were harvested it was much too late to consider planting a second crop of beans so I planted a cover crop. This year I planted 2 bushel an acre of oats and a little over one pound of purple top turnips. In addition to the oats I like to plant a tuber crop with a tap root that will grow deeper in the soil and break up any compaction or tillage layer.

I guess there is a reason they call this variety of turnips purple top! Some of the purple top turnips measured almost 5 inches in diameter and 4 inches in height. Plus the tap root penetrated much deeper in the soil. I think you can assume I can grow turnips as a cover crop? Given their size and tap root they should have achieved my goal of breaking up a hard pan and aerating the soil!

I will have to give the credit to "Mother Nature" though. After I planted the cover crops in early August we received a nice rain about every week. Plus, before I planted the cover crops I had a pork producer neighbor that injected 5000 gallons an acre of hog manure from a finishing barn. Any nitrogen that was available in the manure should now be tied up in the cover crop residue that will decompose next spring and be available for the corn crop.


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