After a few years of experimenting with cover cropping and seeing the results, we are going into this as an annual approach to
improving pastures and animal conditions over Winter. First and foremost we have plenty of fescues that are naturally stockpiled by the cattle via selective grazing. Fescue is the basis for
every Virginia pastue I have seen. Seeding times and productivity are variable due to temperature and rain. In 2019 we invested in a no-till drill to be able to take advantage of this strategy
fully. We had rented them in the past but as you can imagine the larger produces and ranchers who spend more get first dibs and we kept getting the fringe season or no chance at all. No-till drilling
is the best option for seeding any type of forage into your pastures with the best results.
We have established a mix that will serve in improving our pastures in many ways. The cover crop allows the cattle to continue to
graze a living plant and on the other side, it allows the soil to remain active with coverage, Nitrogen fixation, tillering, and deep rooting plants. If you are grazing in zone 7a you should be
taking advantage of this year-round pasture improvement.
Ivy Croft Winter Pasture Mix includes:
- Triticale: (trit-ih-KAY-lee) is a crop species resulting from a plant breeder's cross between wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale). Triticale grows quickly and because of Virginias mild
winters will grow pretty much through the winter except the coldest weeks in January and February.
- Abruzzi Rye: This particular variety of Rye will grow anywhere. It is an inexpensive option to having a highly productive fall and winter grazing plan.
- Medium Red Clover:
Clover produces nitrogen, helps suppress weeds, and is considered a good soil builder. Clover also raises the protein content of pasture and should be around 40% of any high yielding
Radish: This is mainly for drilling into the soils and helping aerate over the winter. Forage
Radish also provides grazing opportunity and fits into the blends.
Vetch: is a legume used primarily for soil improvement with a large
amount of nitrogen fixation and additional protein to grazing.
- Purple Top
Turnips: are easy to grow, brassica species. They grow quickly and are an
excellent choice for fall grazing livestock and wildlife species. This dual-purpose plant produces a large purple top spherical root and leafy foliage that can both be
grazed. They are also really good for human consumption.
- Austrian Winter Peas: is
a cool-season legume that supplies a protein-rich and highly palatable food source much favored by deer and other wildlife species. Animals go crazy for these things. And besides my kids,
everyone seems to like a pea right?
Seeding timing chart below
Youtube Cover Cropping Videos: