Patience pays

Berkowitz says he likes to "preach patience," especially in managing fall-planted annual cover-crop mixes. "People want to mow it so it looks nice and tidy, but it's best to just let it go to seed," he says. By delaying mowing until April or May, growers can watch their thick layer of thatch turn golden brown in summer, then germinate naturally with the fall rains.

He makes an exception if the annual cover crop is infested with tall-growing mustards or other "junky resident weeds." Then, growers should mow first in January or February before those weeds set seed, setting their blades high enough to safely clear the crop. Repeated over several years, this process eventually creates the right conditions for the cover crop to dominate and the weeds to "kind of go away."

By late spring, when his clients mow their perennial grass-legume mixes, those cover crops have also served as alternate hosts for natural enemies. Berkowitz's experience indicates that, in the long term, even grass cover crops trim populations of leafhoppers, though not necessarily below economic thresholds.

0 0

Post a comment