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Ohio State University Extension


Buckwheat as a Cover Crop in Ohio

Agriculture and Natural Resources
Sarah Noggle; Educator; Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences; Ohio State University Extension, Paulding County
Rachel Cochran; Extension Associate, Water Quality; Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences; Ohio State University Extension, Paulding County

Information gathered from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) was used to compile this summary on how to use buckwheat as a cover crop in Ohio. For more information, see the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and the Cover Crop Selector Tool found at: of hands holding plant with clusters of small, white flowers growing above broad, green leaves.


  • Single, multibranched stems
  • Abundant white flowers
  • Dense, fibrous root system

Cultural Traits

  • Summer annual
  • Minimum germination temperature: 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Reliable establishment window (state average): June 11–Sept. 28
  • Semi-upright to upright growth habit: 2–5 feet
  • Preferred soil pH: 6.0–7.5
  • Can self-seed; very easy to grow
Table 1. Rating the traits of cover crop buckwheat.
Heat tolerance Good
Drought tolerance Good
Low fertility tolerance Excellent
Winter survival Expected winterkill


  • Drilled at ½–1 inch
    • 20–35 lb./acre (pure live seed)
  • Broadcast with shallow incorporation
    • 22–40 lb./acre (pure live seed)
  • Broadcast without incorporation
    • 24–42 lb./acre (pure live seed)

Additional planting information:

  • 20,400 seeds per lb.
  • Increase seeding rate when planting on slopes.
  • Broadcasting without incorporation is usually less dependable than drilling or broadcasting with incorporation.
  • When interseeding, time the seeding to match the appropriate crop growth/maturity.

Disclaimer: Rules for Financial Assistance Program Recipients
Individuals participating in financial assistance programs are required to follow Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Appendix A regarding seeding rates and dates. Failure to do so will jeopardize payments. Appendix A can be found in Ohio’s Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4, Ecological Sciences Tools:


  • Dry matter = 500–2,500 lb. per acre, per year
    • Biomass quantity is highly dependent on planting/termination dates and precipitation.

Additional performance information:

  • Rates poor for early interseeding
  • Very frost sensitive
  • Phosphorus scavenger
  • May resolve symptoms associated with penetrans root lesion nematode and verticillium wilt
  • Weed suppression dependent on early planting
Table 2. Rating the attributes of cover crop buckwheat.
Nitrogen scavenger Good
Soil builder Good
Weed fighter Excellent
Quick growth Excellent
Grain seed harvest Good
Cash crop interseed Very good


  • Tillage
    • If terminating with only tillage, multiple passes are often required.
  • Chemical
  • Winterkill

Additional termination information:

  • Buckwheat goes to seed quickly and must be terminated before seed development.
  • Caution should be used to prevent weed potential and impact on subsequent crops.
  • Follow NRCS guidelines for cover crop termination dates to comply with crop insurance.
Table 3. Potential advantages of cover crop buckwheat.
Soil Impacts
Frees phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) Excellent
Compaction fighter Excellent
Disease Good
Allelopathic (produces biochemicals that inhibit weeds) Very good
Chokes weeds Excellent
Attracts beneficials Excellent
Short windows Excellent

Potential Disadvantages

Delayed emergence: occasionally a minor problem

Increased weed potential: could be a minor problem

  • Regrowth and volunteer plants could be a problem if terminated after seeds become viable.
  • Buckwheat sets seed quickly and could pose a weed problem.

Increased insects/nematodes: occasionally a minor problem

  • Buckwheat is highly attractive to Japanese beetles.

Hinders crops: occasionally a minor problem


  • This cover crop is susceptible to white mold.
  • Buckwheat is very frost sensitive and does not germinate/thrive in cold soil.
  • Contamination of buckwheat in wheat can affect wheat exports to Japan.
  • Buckwheat is sensitive to several herbicides.


This publication was adapted with consent from the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) with content from the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide, Third Edition, and Cover Crop Selector Tool ( It was created under a joint project with MCCC to produce customized introductory guidance about cover crops for all member states/provinces. Ohio cover crop recipes can be found at

The Midwest Cover Crops Council ( aims to facilitate widespread adoption of cover crops throughout the Midwest by providing educational/outreach resources and programs, conducting new research, and communicating about cover crops to the public.

Funding for this project was provided by the McKnight Foundation.

Red square with white lettering spelling McKnight Foundation.



Originally posted Apr 5, 2023.