Forums Cultivating Truffles Preferred Cover Crop when preparing a new truffiere

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    • #10664
      David LeRoux

        Can anyone recommend a specific cover crop to plant that will best prepare soil that has recently been cleared to plant a new truffiere with inoculated trees in spring 2023?
        The site is located in Virginia in zone 7A, and was previously covered in 8 year old scrub pine. The land has just been being cleared of the trees and as much root material as possible (by root rake and hardy rake and discing).  After the soil is prepared, we plan to add 2 tons of lime and then reassess the PH in 3-6 months.
        I would appreciate any specific advice on an initial cover crop selection to plant immediately following land preparation and lime application, as it will serve both to add organic material to the soil structure,  and serve to help control soil erosion.


      • #10669
        Fabrice Caporal

          Hello David,

          Cover crop is a controversial topic, at least when it comes to planted orchard. Your choice of plant will depend on the specifics of your area and on what you are trying to achieve.

          We have selected a cover crop based on these criteria:

          • Help with soil compaction (deep roots)
          • Protect the soil from erosion, direct sun exposure, and water drop compaction (grasses)
          • Do not bring more nitrogen as we have a very rich deep soil (no legumes)
          • Increase organic mater (any plant, mulched)
          • Low growing to not hide gopher activity
          • Beneficial to pollinators (flowers)
          • No plants known to be antifungal (mustard)
          • Economical
          • Maintainable (mowing)
          • Can withstand watering schedule

          Here is a picture of the mix we used for our orchard. A reminder, this is what we choose to match our needs and your mix should be specific to your needs.

          Seed mix

          As for the lime, how big an area are you treating? What is your starting pH? What is your soil type?

          Make sure you are using Calcium Carbonate, the more readily available dolomite lime brings too much Magnesium.

          Two tons feels very little, but again that depends on your soil buffering capacity and what you are trying to achieve.

          I have been told a rule of thumb that it takes about 1T/acre to raise the pH by 0.1, but you  in my experience it took double the amounts estimated by the rule of thumb. We are on loamy soil (ranging from sandy-loam to silty-loam) and started at a pH of 5.5-5.7.  We have added 40T per acre and ended up with a pH of 7.4-7.7.  The problem is that the pH increase is not linear and the farthest you go from the original point the more lime you need to raise the pH.

          I hope this helps. Good luck.

        • #10672
          Fabrice Caporal

            The Orchard Grass thread talks about cover crops as well.

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