Here’s Why South Dakota Farmers Plant Acres Of Radishes And Turnips
It's been a long time since I lived on a farm. Oh, I grew up on a farm (well, just 80 acres so maybe 'farmstead' would be a more correct term). But it was a few more than a few years ago. I mean, think back to the days of B John Deere's (trying to turn the darn big ol' flywheel) and B Farmall's. Back to the days when it seemed like we cultivated the corn for weeks and weeks.
Yeah, that far back.
So when someone told me that lots of South Dakota farmers (and other states farmers) were planting acres and acres of radishes, I knew I was getting my leg pulled. Corn? Of course. Beans? Oh my gosh yes. But radishes? You're trying to pull one on the ol' bald skinny guy now.
Except they weren't.
When I was a kid my Dad and I loved to sit down to a few radishes with salt. Heck, we'd even have a delicious radish sandwich. But we never gave one fleeting thought to radishes being a cover crop. In fact, we didn't know what a 'cover crop' was.
Turns out radishes are planted because it's great for the soil and part of a soil health program. And not only radishes, but turnips, barley, field peas and more. All of that helps soil health and reduces erosion. Oh, and it helps with water absorption and quality as well.
Huh. That's all...'Huh'.
I suppose the rest of the world knew all this, but for the old fella that's been off the farm for a hundred years (I'm ball parkin' that figure) it's something new and pretty darn cool.
Plus it brought me back to a metal kitchen table in a ramshackle old farmhouse where my Dad and me are sittin', salting up a few radishes.