Crop Rotation For Seed Growers

What is a weed?

Weeds are those plants you don’t want growing in your garden.

Even if last year, you really wanted those plants to be thriving in that very same spot.
This is extra true for seed growers.

One year ,you do everything you can to get the biggest fattest arugula seeds.
But you can never harvest them all. Some will shatter before you begin to harvest, and some will shatter as you harvest, and then there are those seeds you simply miss.

Next year, all that shattered seed is ready to pop open and reach for the sky.
And you’ve got a dense mat of beautiful arugula seedlings.
In some cases, this might be a blessing – BONUS CROP!!!!

But if you’re trying to grow anything other than arugula – this might be a nightmare.

I designed our Seed Crop Rotation to flush out unwanted shattered seeds.

Here is that rotation:

The key component is that we follow every seed production year with a cover crop year.

During the cover crop year, the shattered seed germinates and starts to grow.
When we mow the cover crops, we also keep all the weeds and unwanted plants from going to seed. When we incorporated the cover crop, the shattered seed bank has been dramatically reduced.
The following year, when we come back to a seed crop, there will barely be any volunteers from that arugula seed crop.

Something else to to note:
We also group crops by planting date.
We alternate frost hardy crops planted May 1 and tender crops planted around June 1.
Since most crop family fall into either Frost Hardy or Tender, this leaves 4 years before we come back to the same crop family. This breaks a lot of disease and pest cycles.
The one family we need to be careful of is Compositae/Asteraceae (which includes lettuce and a ridiculous amount of flowers.). It has members that are both Frost Hardy and Tender.

I start crop planning from seed crops with our rotation. I won’t grow more of a species than what fits into our crop rotation.
This can make for some tough choices. But once the choices are made, the rest is easy peasy. (Unless those birds come back and eat all the seed peas again.)

Are there any specific crop considerations that guide your crop rotation?

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