Seeds for Bees continues to increase the acres of cover crops that growers and beekeepers are relying on to improve the health of their soil, trees, and bees. Last year we provided enough seed to plant more than 8,000 acres of cover crops. That is 1,500 more acres than the previous year’s total! With all this late rain its hard to imagine harvest is only a few months away. The 2019-2020 Seeds for Bees open enrollment period will be here even sooner. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply by going to the Project Apis m. Seeds for Bees website. We are accepting applications from June 15th through November 1st or until we run out of seed. Growers of all types can apply.
As more growers adopt the practice of cover cropping there is an increased need for more data on the effect of cover crops in orchard systems. Due to the collaborative efforts of University of California professors, University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources extension agents, Almond Board of California, and Project Apis m. there is now an extensive research project investigating the impact cover crops are having on almond orchards throughout the state. It may be another 1-2 years before the data collection is complete and the paper is published. However, some researchers have allowed us to share some preliminary results.
Research from Dr. Dani Lightle, Cynthia Crézé, and Dr. Amélie Gaudin will answer some important questions regarding cover crops and their role in soil organic matter, water use, pest pressure, and greenhouse gas emissions. The preliminary results on the effects of frost were intriguing. They found orchard floors with cover crops were cooler by a few degrees than those with bare ground or resident vegetation. However, at a height of 5 feet above ground the average temperatures of the orchard with a cover crop and without were the same (2) (see Figure 3 below). Research into temperature dynamics is continuing.
Stay tuned for more results from the 11 scientists that are working hard to study what exactly is going on in your cover crops. Feel free to contact Billy Synk at Billy@ProjectApism.org for any questions regarding the Seeds for Bees program, cover crops, or bees/pollination. Check the Seeds for Bees website in mid-June for the online application. Applicants are evaluated on the strength of their application and the order in which they apply. Seed is limited! Enroll as soon as possible before supplies runout. Keep in mind early planting is key to getting the most benefit possible from your cover crop stand.
Director of Pollination Programs
Project Apis m.