What effect will buckwheat that is cut, swathed, and left on the ground have on grass growth the following year?
Answer: If the buckwheat was swathed and then combined for the seed, the residue should have been uniformly spread out the back of the combine. If, however, the buckwheat was left in the swathed windrow, the grass may have a more difficult time emerging in the spring.
If there was substantial residue in the windrow, you might want to go over it with a quick rake just to spread everything out. This will help ensure even grass emergence in the spring. However, if there is not a lot of residue, it may break down by spring time and be just fine.
Buckwheat is not technically a wheat, but is a broadleaf crop instead. It has much less carbon in its residue than wheat and should break down fairly quickly. How long it takes will depend on the amount of residue, the temperature, and the rainfall in your area.
Cornell University is a good resource for information on buckwheat management. You can access Cornell’s Department of Horticulture website at http://hort.cals.cornell.edu/ and then use the search box to find relevant information.
North Dakota also grows a lot of buckwheat and has excellent Extension information. You can access the NDSU Buckwheat website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/crops/a687w.htm.
You may also be interested in the fertility benefits of buckwheat to the following grass crop. Buckwheat and mustards do acidify the root zone and seem to take up phosphorus more efficiently than the cereal grain crops. Some organic farmers claim that this helps with phsphorus availability to the next year's crop. Initial research at Montana State University has suggested this is not the case, however. While buckwheat can use phosphorus more efficiently than other crops, the only benefit seems to come to the buckwheat crop itself and not to the subsequent crop. The best sources of phosphorus in an organic system are; animal manure, bone meal, and rock phosphate.
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