About Relay cropping
Relay cropping is a method of multiple cropping where one crop is seeded into a standing second crop well before harvesting the second crop. If harvested right after the first crop, the second crop comes from top to bottom of the rotation. Using relay cropping allows multiple crops to be harvested. So the result is a true three-row rotation.
- The process of relaying is quite simple and straightforward. I haven’t been able to document a precise method or step by step tutorial.
- I do recommend having a good camera for relaying as that makes the process much easier. A digital camera is the best choice.
Unfortunately, using relay cropping isn’t very fast. You may be able to get some fairly long run times, but most times, relay cropping takes far longer than it takes for other ways to repeat crops.
Some other examples of relaying crops include the following.
Red Apple and Peach Relay Cropping
This is a well-documented method for relaying or “sticking” peaches and apples into a long run-off cropping mix. You can use this method to relay onions and garlic as well.
Fruit Relay Cropping
This process will get an onion in the ground. You can use this method to relay pears and apples into a short run-off for any number of vegetables.
Most of the time, the only limitation on fruit relay cropping is the amount of cold storage space you have. However, you can relay tomatoes, potatoes, squash, and cucumbers as well. I used relaying grapes and apples to relay a spring onion mix and relaying potatoes into the potato relay mix.
Mulberry Relay Cropping
This is my relaying method of choice, and it has provided me the most consistent production. It is called mulberry relay cropping, and it involves planting the mulberry (the first crop) first into well-drained soils that are slightly above the top of a high-speed production liner.
Most growers who use relaying or sticking produce multiple crops of the first crop and then plant the second crop in the high yield second crop well after the first crop.
If you can make this work and have a low interest in waiting a long time for your second crop to come in, this method is probably the best for your area.
To relay mulberries, you start out planting the mulberry very close to the first crop and not very deep at all. This allows the mulberry to push through the first crop without using more fertilizer or water to correct it. I find mulberries will take less than one ton of fertilizer and five gallons of water planting and have a higher root retention rate than imagined.
Then you continue planting the second crop (second crop) well into the second crop. Because it is spread out, you can use more fertilizer or water to keep the crop clean, and the dry season will not have to close it down.
This method will create a low-maintenance first crop, ideal for small plots or mid-season production. For instance, if you had a twenty-foot-long piece of land, you could relay for your first crop a couple of months before your second crop.
Then you would plant the second crop at the end of the second crop. This will almost guarantee that the two crops will come in well before the third crop. This will create a very predictable low-maintenance production. You would never have to worry about making sure a chicken runs around the plant once every two or three weeks.
High Yield Relay Cropping
This process will get an onion in the ground. You can use this method to relay potatoes, cucumbers, and tomato plants.
See the links below for more information on this method of relay cropping.
Relay Cropping Tips and Examples Some other examples of relaying crops include the following.
Hard Cane Relay Cropping
This is a popular method for relaying carrots. You start by planting the carrots, adding more garlic and onion to that layer, and repeating the planting. It is a little more work to get into a planting mix with garlic and onion than other crops.
But if the onion is the only onion you are planting, it can take nearly a whole gallon of fertilizer and ten gallons of water to make one planting.
This is a good example of how different crops can become a chore if you try to accomplish the same thing. This method also requires more seedlings per row. However, it is usually worth it.
Apples Relay Cropping
This is the easiest relay cropping method and one I use almost every year. If you are interested in getting the best apple production, this is the way to go.
First, plant the apple seed into well-drained soil and place a circle well in the middle of the seedbed. Next, add a layer of mulch until your whole garden bed is covered. Then plant your onions around the onions you planted.
This method will get your onions off to a great start by protecting them from birds and early-season weeds. It will give you high yield production in the spring as well.
Lasting Relay Cropping
This method has worked well for tomatoes and cucumbers, but it is not the best for onions or potatoes. The problem with this method is when it comes to potatoes, and it is best to use the relaying method. The onion plants will come in high production right off the plant and keep producing well after the potato plants are out of the ground.
But potatoes grow well in cool weather or at high moisture levels. If you plant potatoes into the mulberry relay mix, they will almost always be dry when you are harvesting. The garlic will not be off to a good start either.
This method is not nearly as predictable, and the onion plants may even get bigger than the potato plants before they start producing.
Beans Relay Cropping
This method works well for both beans and cucumbers, but it is best for potatoes. This method starts with planting two plants on top of each other. Plant the beans a couple of inches apart. Then plant one of the cucumbers into each bean seedbed.
Use an extra set of windbreaks or trees to ensure that you do not put beans in a part of your yard that could get wet in the rain. Then add some mulch to keep the beans dry.
This is an excellent way to get a deficient production of beans, but only at low moisture levels. But if you plant beans late in the season, this method will save you the stress and time of running to a farm store to buy a bag of beans.
Using the tomato relay cropping method, you can enjoy high yields in a short period of time. But in the winter you will probably not have a lot of control over the garden.
Tips for Growing Potatoes Relay Cropping
Potatoes grow very fast in spring. You can plant a potato crop in a single season and harvest in just two or three months in the spring. The real benefit is that you can have high yields of high-yielding potatoes by relaying potatoes during the winter months. The downside is that you will need more seed potatoes per row than you do when you use the relay planting method.
Some other benefits of the relay planting method of potato planting include:
- Potatoes will grow in very low moisture environments. Even during drought conditions potatoes can grow very well in dry soil.
- There is almost no risk of drought damage when relaying potatoes.
- Potatoes will be off to a great start when they are planted in the relay method. The tomatoes that were used to relay the onions or garlic plants will grow very well and produce well in the spring.