[Market-farming] Buckwheat Questions

JOHN A HENDRICKSON jhendric at wisc.edu
Thu Jul 7 23:23:26 EDT 2005


It is certainly not too late to plant buckwheat.  It germinates quickly
(3-5 days) and rapidly creates a dense canopy to keep weeds from
germinating.  It is an excellent smother crop.  It starts blooming and
reaches maturity in 70-90 days.  According to the book Managing Cover
Crops Profitably (which I highly recommend), buckwheat will regrow if
clipped before it reaches 25% bloom.   I've never tried that.

As far as I know, there are not different types but one standard variety.

Buckwheat does not make a good late fall cover crop because it is
extremely frost sensitive.  It can, however, be used as a "nurse crop"
for slow starting winter hardy cover crops.

If you let it flower to have the blossoms available for bees, the
buckwheat will go to seed and it will re-seed itself.  Some growers do
this intentionally and thereby get 2-3 successive buckwheat smother
crops during one season.  My experience is that buckwheat does not may
an overly troublesome, long-term weed if you let it go to seed.

Sowing rates tyically range between 60 to 90 lbs per acre (3-4 oz/100
square feet).  Use the higher end of this range to generate a quick
smother crop.  The seed can be drilled (planted with a seed drill) or
broadcast and lightly harrowed.

Seed is widely available.  Check with your local seed/feed store or look
on-line.

For additional information about cover crops for small-scale vegetable
farms, see:

http://www.cias.wisc.edu/archives/2003/09/01/cover_crops_on_the_intensive_market_farm/index.php

-John



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