ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

What's the best way to get rid of fescue and goldenrod before planting to clover?

Posted October 14, 2004

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Send it to Jeff at:

Dear Jeff,

I was on the web looking for advice on starting an organic farm on land I found 30 miles north of Atlanta. The 2-acre field was a horse pasture a few years ago. It is now in fescue and 3-foot high goldenrod. What’s the best way to get rid of all that before planting clover for the winter?

Gary Wallace

Dear Gary,

The best you can do is probably mow the fescue and goldenrod down to the ground. It would be most helpful if the material could be baled and removed to facilitate the next step, which is plowing.

In order to eliminate the fescue as a weed in the clover, you’ll need to turn it under. That means plowing and disking the ground, then seeding it to clover. I’m not sure what your plans are for next spring and why you want the clover. If only a portion of your land will be planted to nitrogen-loving crops, you may want to till out that portion to start the clover, leave the rest in mowed fescue till spring, and deal with it then.

I would need more information and details on your future plans to be of more help.

Best of luck,


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