Sow and mow strategically

Some growers like to cultivate every other row of their cover crops in early April and mow the rows in between. Then, they disk the mowed rows in May. To Berkowitz, that's better for pest management than mowing too early and almost as good as allowing the covers to go entirely to seed.

Other growers — not ready for a solid floor of no-till cover crops — don't plant those alternate rows to begin with. Instead, they simply sow every other row. Berkowitz endorses that practice for sites where soils aren't rich or deep and vines aren't overly vigorous. "It gives producers a little bit of a compromise and over time they can go to complete no-till."

Berkowitz cautions growers not to overfertilize insectary blends, whose energy should go towards flowering rather than towards vegetative growth, and he advises against fertilizing grass-legume mixtures at all, since the legumes will eventually help supply nitrogen. He supports fertilizing solely when growers of grass-only covers want "quick, thick" stands for erosion control.

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