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The Amazing Benefits of Forage Radish

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Think you know about radishes? Think again. Forget about those little red veggies you grow in your garden; I’m talking about forage radishes. Also known as tillage radish, this souped-up member of the brassica family is not something you’ll find on the dinner table. In fact, forage radish never actually leaves the ground to perform its best work. So what’s making farmers and gardeners everywhere do a double-take when introduced to forage radish? The answer can be found in the roots, or “tillers” of this amazing crop.


Bio-Driller and Soil Enhancer

The first thing you’ll notice about forage radish that sets it apart from its much smaller, vegetable version is the massive taproot. Measuring in at a length of 18+ inches with a diameter of 4 inches, the taproot of forage radish is able to “till” down into hard, compacted soil with ease. Each radish also produces many fine roots that channel further down into the soil. This natural form of tillage is also referred to as “bio-drilling”. As an annual, forage radish will die in the winter leaving behind its huge taproot to decompose in the soil. This enriches the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients. Water is also able to move more freely into the soil, reducing erosion and helping conserve moisture. Come spring, the forage radish will have completely disappeared, leaving behind a naturally tilled soil ready to be planted.


Valuable as a Cover Crop and in Wildlife Food Plots

Besides its amazing below ground benefits, forage radish also has a lot to offer above the soil surface. Forage radish is very quick to establish and produces a large amount of leaf mass. This makes it an excellent choice as a cover crop; suppressing weeds and protecting the soil surface from erosion. The above ground forage is also palatable to livestock and wildlife. Deer and other big game are especially attracted to forage radish, consuming both the above ground forage and digging down to find the radish itself. This makes forage radish a valuable component of big game food plots.


How to Use Forage Radish

To use forage radish to its full potential, it should be planted in the late summer or early fall at least six weeks before the first killing frost. It can be planted alone at a rate of 12 lbs. / acre, or mixed in with other forages. Be aware that the higher the seeding rate, the smaller the taproot will be. Forage radish does have some limitations. They don’t tolerant wet, poorly drained soils, so avoid planting in areas that experience standing water. They also require full sun and adequate soil moisture, so irrigation may be necessary if natural rainwater is not available.

Here at Nature’s Seed, we have forage radish seed available here. You can also find it as a component in our Big Game Food Plot Blends. These specialized food plot blends combine forage radish with some of the most beneficial cereal grains, legumes and forbs, creating a food plot cocktail that big game find irresistible.

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