See the UF/IFAS Tip of the Week for information for preparing and planting cover crops in the Florida citrus grove.

Cover crops are well-known for their effectiveness in improving soil health, and research has shown that improved soil health is good for citrus trees in the citrus greening era. The UF/IFAS Tip of the Week shares tips for preparing and planting cover crops in your citrus grove. See them below.

Planting Cover Crops

Cover crops are plants that are sown to improve the soil rather than being harvested. In citrus, they are planted in citrus grove row middles. Cover crops improve soil organic matter and microbial diversity and activity, reduce weeds, and influence nutrient availability.

Advice for preparing for and planting cover crops include:

Cover Crop Choice. “Annual cover crop species include legumes, which can provide nitrogen to the soil, such as sunn hemp, cowpeas and clovers. Non-legume annual cover crops include millet, buckwheat, oats and daikon radish. These can provide soil carbon inputs that can be important for microbial activity and nutrient cycling.”

Timing. “Because cover crops are intended to provide benefits without requiring fertilization or irrigation, timing the planting of your cover crops with the rainy season can be critical for germination and growth. Planting a mixture of annual cover crops at the beginning of the rainy season and toward the end of the rainy season helps ensure the germinating plants have enough water.”

Manage Weeds. “You may want to prepare your row middles to provide optimal conditions for germination. Depending on the current weed pressure, herbicides can be applied to the row middles to reduce competition with the germinating cover crops. Annual cover crop seeds can be planted using seed drills or by broadcasting the seeds. Another way to potentially assist cover crop germination is to mow the dead weeds after planting the cover crops. This plant material can help retain soil moisture.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.