No-till corn part 4: Help! The vetch is out of control

Hello Jeff,

I’ve been anxiously waiting for your articles to talk about your no till corn into a stand of vetch. How is your corn doing ?

I did a similar test w/ vetch and corn this year. A very small 1/4 acre stretch is all. Its not looking so good either. I waited until the inoculated vetch was in flower, and the winter rye was pollinating before mowing it down close and planting the corn. To plant my corn I simply cut a slit using an old cultivator, seeding and covering by hand. Talk about too much work, and lack of fingernails when finished….

I was out there yanking the new growth of vetch that totally overran the corn in a month – I thought I heard that it can’t handle a close mow… (wrong). The corn is the shortest in the valley – some folks are just about ready to harvest… I’m bummed.

Let me know about your no-till corn into vetch test this year.

Mike Bosko

Hi Mike,

I’m just back from a few days off the farm and, as you might expect, busy as can be. Since I don’t have much time at the moment I’ll try and get right to it. My no-till corn this year didn’t do well but not for the reasons you might think. My new roller worked great to knock the vetch down and the new planter configuration got the seed in just like I wanted it to. BUT! Just as the corn was emerging and maybe an inch and a half tall crows and black birds pulled out the whole 4 acres. Did it in 2 days. The field was a total loss and will be planted into wheat this fall. Coupled with the problem I had with my vetch over wintering I’d say it wasn’t the best. But I did learn that our equipment modifications were great and next year things will be different.

I’m sorry to hear of your problems with your no-till work. I’ve never seen vetch come back after it was cut in full bloom. I am afraid I don’t have any good advice to give you since our vetch has never failed to die off unless I cut or rolled it too early. Then it definitely will grow back as you described and be a plaque upon your corn. I’m not sure where in the country you are located and if weather played a roll in your crop failure or not. Vetch should be able to supply enough nitrogen to grow a corn crop. Email me back or post your discussion point on The New Farm Forums. There my be others with the same experiences. (For a detailed look at the roller we used, check out Laura Sayre’s new piece.)