The crops commonly grown in the Southeast United States do well in the humid, temperate climate and low-organic-matter soils predominant in the region. Yields and soil quality are improved when these crops are part of a rotation. Production practices such as timing, tillage, pesticide application, irrigation and cover crops will vary based on cash crops in the rotation. Cover crops may include a single species or a mix of species. Common cover crops include grasses for nutrient scavenging and carbon addition, brassicas with deep taproots to break up hardpans, and legumes to add nitrogen.
This chapter discusses cash crop selection and crop rotations in the Southeast. Table 7.1 lists the crops grown in the Southeast from highest acreage to lowest. In this chapter, Southeast refers to the states represented in Table 7.1: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
When selecting crops and planning rotations, use strategies that mitigate the causes of yield reductions. The book Farm Management, published in 1918 , listed these main causes of reduced productivity:
- Fertile surface soil is carried away by wind or water erosion.
- Soil no longer has the water-holding capacity to supply plant needs.
- Soil ceases to provide a favorable environment for soil organisms.
- Nitrogen is carried away in drainage water.
- Monoculture cropping exhausts the available supply of plant nutrients.
- Organic matter is lossed: the most frequent cause of decreased yields.
- Alkali accumulates in the soil: a common reason for reduced yields in arid regions.
The same soil quality and crop production issues are at the forefront of agriculture today and need to be considered for optimal yield and environmental sustainability. Fortunately, problems in the Southeast, such as decreased crop yields and degraded soils, can be overcome with conservation agriculture systems, integrated nutrient and pest management, new technology and better crop selection.
Table of Contents
- Author and Contributor List
- Chapter 1: Introduction to Conservation Tillage Systems
- Chapter 2: Conservation Tillage Systems: History, the Future and Benefits
- Chapter 3: Benefits of Increasing Soil Organic Matter
- Chapter 4: The Calendar: Management Tasks by Season
- Chapter 5: Cover Crop Management
- Chapter 6: In-Row Subsoiling to Disrupt Soil Compaction
- Chapter 7: Cash Crop Selection and Rotation
- Chapter 8: Sod, Grazing and Row-Crop Rotation: Enhancing Conservation Tillage
- Chapter 9: Planting in Cover Crop Residue
- Chapter 10: Soil Fertility Management
- Chapter 11: Weed Management and Herbicide Resistance
- Chapter 12: Plant-Parasitic Nematode Management
- Chapter 13: Insect Pest Management
- Chapter 14: Water Management
- Chapter 15: Conservation Economics: Budgeting, Cover Crops and Government Programs
- Chapter 16: Biofuel Feedstock Production: Crop Residues and Dedicated Bioenergy Crops
- Chapter 17: Tennessee Valley and Sandstone Plateau Region Case Studies
- Chapter 18: Southern Coastal Plain and Atlantic Coast Flatwoods Case Studies
- Cash Crop Selection and Crop Rotations
- Specific Management Considerations
- Case Study Farms
- Producer Experiences
- Transition to No-Till
- Changes in Natural Resources
- Changes in Agricultural Production
- Specialty Crops
- Why Change to No-Till?
- Supporting Technologies and Practices
- The Future
- Research Case Study
- Chapter 19: Alabama and Mississippi Blackland Prairie Case Studies
- Chapter 20: Southern Piedmont Case Studies