Quick turnaround cover crops before brassicas

Farmer: Ryan Thiessen, Kevin Hamilton, Angie Koch, Ken Laing, Mike Reid

Farm: Creek Shore Farms, Shared Harvest Community Farm, Fertile Ground Farm, Orchard Hill Farm, Kolapore Gardens

Region: Ontario

Publish Date: February 6, 2018

Article Type: Research Project

Research Priorities: Cover Crops 

Part of a multi-farm trial on five farms asking the research question: Do spring planted cover crops benefit the production of late season brassica cash crops?


  • Organic vegetable growers use cover crops to improve soil fertility and tilth and control weeds.
  • Five growers evaluated summer cover crops to determine benefits to N-demanding late season brassicas.
  • Specific cover crop comparisons included bell/fava bean (legume) vs. no cover crop control; cocktails containing a legume (bell/fava bean, peas, white clover) vs. buckwheat control.

Key Findings

  • Dry conditions in the spring impeded germination resulting in “lacklustre growth [that was] not nearly competitive
    enough to deter weeds” or mature enough to effectively mow, resulting in very little meaningful cover crop or
    brassicas yield data.
  •  Buckwheat came up better than other species, making it the most drought tolerant of the species grown; at
    Angie’s, buckwheat had 6+ times greater biomass than the oats/peas/fava cocktail (P<0.01).