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Cornell University

Cover Crop Guide for NY Growers

Dr. Thomas Björkman, Horticulture Section, Cornell AgriTech

Mustard, Turnip, and Rapeseed After Winter

Grain and crucifer cover crops vary greatly in how they survive the winter, and how they appear after the snow melts in the spring. These pictures give an idea of how well the soil was covered and how quickly the cover crop will decompose in spring. At the bottom are photos of spring weed suppression.

All of these were sown on August 30, 2007. They grew vigorously, producing about 1 ton of dry matter per acre by the end of October, except the buckwheat that was well past its growing window. Cover crops were photographed March 17, 2008, after snow melt.


‘Tilney’ Yellow Mustard
Bolted early and flowered. Was about 24″ when killed in December.



‘Bonar’ Rapeseed
Bolted to 14″, Killed in December.




Flowered, stopped growing in October. Was about 18″ when killed by first light frost in November.



‘Rangi’ Rapeseed

Bolted late to 8″, Killed in December.



Tillage radish
A thin stand. Good growth, no bolting, killed in December.



‘Pasja’ Forage Turnip
Didn’t bolt, made 2-3″ turnips. Growing point survived, but root did not.



Grew to about 15″ with erect leaves, no bolting. A thick mat of dead vegetation.



Grew vigourously but a low plant. A thick mat of living vegetation will regrow.