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Cover Crop Series: Super Sugar Sterile

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Super Sugar Sterile is a member of the Sorghum genus. Like other members of the Sorghum genus, it is heat- and drought-tolerant and an excellent scavenger of soil nutrients, especially nitrogen. Super Sugar Sterile is relatively tall, reaching heights of 6 feet or more, and medium in maturity when compared to other warm-season grass cover crops. It is a warm-season annual but fall plantings can make some decent growth before frost. Super Sugar Sterile is susceptible to sugar cane aphids. Some people claim it is hard to burn down, but we have not had any problem. Seeding rate was 27 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.