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Ohio State University Extension


Radish 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 radish 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:, deeply lobed leaves grow from the top of a white, carrot-like vegetable that is pulled from the ground and lying on its side in the dirt.


  • Deeply lobed leaves
  • Rosette of leaves
  • Flowers that are purple, light purple, light pink, or white
  • Deep taproot

Cultural Traits

  • Cool-season annual
  • Minimum germination temperature: 45 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Reliable establishment window (state average): Mar. 29–June 11; July 24–Sept. 28
  • Upright growth habit: 12–18 inches
  • Preferred soil pH: 6.0–7.5
Table 1. Rating the traits of cover crop radish.
Heat tolerance Good
Shade tolerance Good
Winter survival Seldom


  • Drilled at ¼–½ inch
    • 2–4 lb./acre (pure live seed)
  • Broadcast with shallow incorporation
    • 3–5 lb./acre (pure live seed)
  • Broadcast without incorporation
    • 3–6 lb./acre (pure live seed)

Additional planting information:

  • 34,000 seeds per lb.
  • When planting on slopes or using for forage/grazing, increase seeding rate.
  • Broadcasting without incorporation is usually less dependable than drilling or broadcasting with incorporation.

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 = 1,200–3,000 lb. per acre, per year
    • Biomass quantity is highly dependent on planting/termination dates and precipitation.

Additional performance information:

  • Radish is excellent for early interseeding.
  • It is good at scavenging but will release nutrients before crop growing season.
  • Other plants may be smothered if radish is planted too heavy.
  • It produces a natural herbicide called glucosinolate, that reduces weed germination.
  • The grazing palatability of radish improves after frost.
  • Radish attracts earthworms.
  • Do not plant as a single species due to erosion concern.
  • During the process of decay, radish can be odorous.
  • Radish can bolt under certain conditions and become a serious weed if allowed to go to seed.
Table 2. Rating the attributes of cover crop radish.
Nitrogen scavenger Very good
Soil builder Good
Weed fighter Very good
Grazing Good
Quick growth Very good
Cash crop interseed Excellent


  • Tillage
    • If terminating with only tillage, multiple passes are often required.
  • Chemical
  • Winterkill
    • Winter-kills at 25 degrees Fahrenheit (mild winters may allow for 10% survival of some varieties).

Additional termination information:

  • Follow NRCS guidelines for cover crop termination dates to comply with crop insurance.
Table 3. Potential advantages of cover crop radish.
Soil Impacts
Subsoiler Excellent
Frees phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) Very good
Compaction fighter Excellent
Nematodes Very good
Disease Very good
Allelopathic (produces biochemicals that inhibit weeds) Very good
Chokes weeds Excellent
Short windows Very good

Potential Disadvantages

Delayed emergence: could be a minor problem

Increased weed potential: could be a minor problem

Increased insects/nematodes: occasionally a minor problem

Hinders crops: occasionally a minor problem


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 rectangle with white lettering spelling McKnight Foundation.



Originally posted Apr 10, 2023.