Decoding the Radishes

We have published 100 Wooleylot blogs.  In doing this, we have tried to give you some fun garlic facts, informative updates, interactive polls, food recipes, and a little bit of humor. We have tried to treat our blog site like a technical journal with articles that have a general interest. So with that, on to the next 100 blogs.

Cover crops are a subject that we continue to learn about. One new (at least to us) cover crop that we are studying is the Forge Radish.  There are dizzying number of names for this Brassica family member, including “forage radish”, “tillage radish” and “ground hog radish” and also the”Daikon” radish or “Japanese” radish . And guess what? All of these various seed catalog names are basically the same radish (Raphanus sativus var. niger).

There is also the oilseed radish (Raphanus sativus var. oleiformis). The oilseed radish has a stubbier, more branched taproot and tends to be somewhat more winter hardy than the forage radish.  So, for us, we plan to use the oilseed radish in our rotation mainly for its winter handiness. Another very good thing about the radishes is that they are not susceptible to wheat curl mite that can potentially infest allium crops. One cropping blend of interest to us is a mixture of oilseed radish and crimson clover as early fall planted cover. The crimson clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant which serves to place the fertilizer in the soil.  The radish taproots mine and store the nitrogen. In the spring, the radish residue decomposes rapidly and releases its stored nitrogen to increase topsoil fertility.

Below is the source [1] where we got the facts to help us decipher the radishes. “Just the ‘radish’ facts ma’am” Dragnet. Here’s the radishes at a glance.

Forage Radish Traits:

  • Rapid germination and growth.
  • Large deeply penetrating tap root.
  • Winter-kills.
  • Quick to decompose residues.
  • High nutrient (N, P, S, Ca, B) content.
  • Bio-active plant chemicals (glucosinolates).
  • Alleviate soil compaction – save on deep tillage
  • Suppress weeds – save on herbicides / cultivation
  • Enhance seedbed – save time and plant earlier in spring
  • Build organic matter – improve soil quality
  • Release N early and increase topsoil fertility – save on N and other fertilizers
  • Reduce nitrate leaching – save the Bay
  • Control erosion – save your soil
  • Reduce runoff – conserve rainwater

[1] Forage Radish:New Multi-Purpose Cover Crop for the Mid-Atlantic, By University of Maryland


About wooleylot

Garlic Farmer
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One Response to Decoding the Radishes

  1. Dave says:

    I love using radishes for a cover crop. They are so easy!

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