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Information for Buckwheat Growers

Buckwheat Cover Crop Handbook


Preparing for strawberries

Full growing season before establishing strawberries:


  • Management that allows few weeds.
  • An open field in spring


  1. Till the ground some time in mid-spring when the soil works up easily.
  2. Plant in late May or early June. Prepare a good seedbed so the soil is loosened several inches deep and not lumpy. Drill 50 lb/ac, 1 inch deep or less. Broadcasting is possible, but to avoid gaps it must be done with great care to spread evenly using 70 lb/ac. Use shallow incorporation, such as with a drag or chain, to give the buckwheat a faster start than the weeds. Good ground cover is a must for weed suppression.
  3. Mow after 45 - 50 days, after immature seed have begun to form.
  4. Replant as before, or if the soil is moist and there is time, allow second crop to grow from volunteers. If the soil is dry, irrigate about 1” a few days before planting.
  5. Mow the second crop within a week of flowering. Plant a winter cover crop (annual ryegrass, oats) in late August or early September.
  6. Till soil the following spring and plant a new strawberry crop.


Replanting (For growers raising only strawberries. This scenario begins at the end of the berry production cycle):
Growers with little land and no opportunity to rotate crops can use the following procedure, but will get a smaller improvement in soil health and weed suppression. This plan emphasizes a tight time schedule, but does not restore productivity like a full rotation. It prevents, but doesn’t cure, high weed pressure.


  1. Harvest strawberries and apply an herbicide to control perennial weeds. After the herbicide has been translocated, till in and allow 10 days to decompose. Cultivate just before seeding to kill weed seedlings and prepare the seedbed. Irrigate dry soil to ensure uniform emergence and good ground cover.
  2. Plant buckwheat in mid-July. Drill 50 lb/ac, 1 in deep. Broadcasting is possible, but to avoid gaps it must be done with great care to spread evenly using 70 lb/ac and to cover the seeds lightly (1/2 to 1 in).
  3. Mow after 35-40 days to avoid volunteers.
  4. Plant a second buckwheat crop immediately (mid–late August) as in step 2.
  5. Mow or incorporate the second crop after 35 days. Plant a winter cover crop such as wheat in late September.
  6. Till the soil the following spring and plant a new strawberry crop.


Additional notes for strawberry growers:
The cover crop procedures described here will let you meet multiple goals.

  • Reduce annual weed seed bank and weaken perennial weeds in strawberry beds
  • Reduce time spent weeding
  • Break disease cycles
  • Improve soil health

The summer cover crop works particularly well for growers who control weeds aggressively. It eliminates an opportunity for weeds to escape in many otherwise solid weed control programs. Growers who are less attentive to weeds will often see less benefit. Nevertheless, even a modest reduction in weed pressure can save many hours of hand-weeding.

The protocol for direct replanting of strawberries is for a particular situation that is best avoided. It is generally more profitable to use a rotation schedule of at least five years. This means that strawberries are grown for three or more years (not harvested in the first) followed by vegetable crops in the fourth year (or longer) and the cover crops in the last year. Such a rotation will keep strawberry yields higher by reducing diseases and maintaining soil health.


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