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Cover Crop Series: Egyptian Wheat

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Egyptian Wheat is not wheat at all but is actually a sorghum. It gets very tall, often reaching 10 feet in height. It matures late in the season, requiring several months to achieve the reproductive growth stage. It has the potential to produce large amounts of biomass and durable residue. Like most other members of the Sorghum genus, Egyptian Wheat is heat- and drought-tolerant and an excellent scavenger of soil nutrients – especially nitrogen. It can carry a risk of prussic acid and is susceptible to sugar cane aphids. Some claim that plants in the Sorghum genus are hard to burn down, possibly due to their height at maturity. We have not experienced problems with that. Seeding rate was 22 pounds per acre.

The plots were drill planted in 7.5 inch rows in a clean-tilled and culti-packed seedbed on May 16, 2017 at the Noble Research Institute Headquarters Farm in Ardmore, Oklahoma on a Weatherford fine sandy loam. Planting depth was shallow, about 0.5 inch, in a dry seedbed and 2.33 inches of rain fell over the next three days. There was no fertilizer, insecticide, or herbicide applied to the crops and pigweed pressure in the field was very heavy. Rainfall was below average after establishment.

About the Cover Crop Series

The Noble Research Institute is testing dozens of cover crop species with potential to help build soil health in the Southern Great Plains. This series features the cover crops we've grown on our Headquarters Farm in southern Oklahoma. These videos explore our results on establishment and growth, ground cover potential, and weed control for each crop.

Jim Johnson serves as a senior soils and crops consultant at Noble Research Institute, where he has worked since 1999. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in soil science from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in agronomy from Oklahoma State University, he worked in various plant breeding programs in Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma. His interests are cover crops and soil health.