Buckwheat is a warm-season cover crop that grows very fast compared to other cover crop varieties. Because it grows so fast, it is a great option for planting in small windows between spring and fall plantings. It also breaks down quickly which allows for fast turnover and replanting of vegetable crops. This is a great strategy that will help to break pest and disease cycles to benefit future vegetable plantings. It will mature in 4-6 weeks and produces small flowers that are great for attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to the vegetable garden. Seeds will mature in 2-3 weeks after flowering, so the cover crop should be cut/mowed and incorporated during that time frame.
Buckwheat is a great cover crop for weed suppression because it grows fast and is able to outpace the weed growth. It also provides a thick cover that shades and kills any weeds that might develop after cover crop seeding. In addition to weed suppression, buckwheat provides significant organic matter that loosens and conditions topsoil, making the soil more workable and increasing soil drainage capabilities. It has been reported that it is able to scavenge phosphorous from the soil, making it available to the subsequently planted crop.
Buckwheat should be planted when soils have warmed in spring and before freezing temperatures arrive in fall/winter. It is not drought tolerant and will wilt when exposed to extreme heat in dry periods. However, the wilting foliage will usually recover in the evenings when temperatures cool. It may be planted with a broadcast spreader or with a precision planter such as our Hoss Garden Seeder. As with all cover crops, they should be cut or mowed before going to seed. This will prevent any reseeding issues in the future.
Buckwheat Planting Information:
Planting Depth: 1/2″
Seeding Rate: 3 lb per 1,000 sq. ft.
Cover Crop Recommendation Chart