Organic cover crop seed production as a sustainable enterprise for the Southeast


Investigator: Ray Hicks, University of Georgia, Screven County Cooperative Extension, Sylvania, Georgia
Project location: Screven County, East Central Georgia

Cereal and  legume cover crops are integral to organic production systems and the NOP standards indicate that organic seed should be used when available. However, organic cover crop seeds are not widely available and there is little to no organic seed production in the southeastern United States. If organic cover crop seed production is a viable enterprise for growers, it will improve the availability of varieties adapted to the Southeast, provide a source for locally grown seeds, as well as adding another profit center for certified organic growers, seed cleaners, and local seed companies.

We propose to evaluate whether the production of certified organic crimson clover and annual rye seed can be a profitable enterprise. The on-farm trials will be conducted on land that has been in organic production for six years, certified in 2005.

Our objectives are to determine: seed yields, seed quality, profitability, and special equipment adaptations or infrastructure needs. Profitability will be initially assessed by developing a production budget and comparing current certified organic rye and crimson clover seed prices to the production costs.