Description. It is an annual plant of the Brassicaceae family. In comparison with the garden radish, the oil radish is not used for food. The plant is cultivated as a fodder and nectariferous crop and green manure crop.
Root of the radish is main, branched, thickened in the upper part. It has straight, branchy stems, up to 120 cm high, with a tendency to lie heavily. The leaves are pinnately-parted, loose inflorescences contain small flowers of different colors: white, pale-violet, light-lilac, pink. After flowering the pods are formed, which contain reddish small seeds of round-oval shape.
Radish is a fast-ripening, cold-resistant plant, it is sown from April to September. Optimum temperature for seed germination is 2-3°C, even sprouts appear at 7-8°C. Radish does not afraid of small frosts. It is not whimsical to the soils, it can grow on clayey, sandy loamy, and loamy soils, but prefers weakly acidic ones. The rhizomes of this green manure crop go deep into the earth, raising substances and water necessary for the plant, while at the same time loosening the top layers of the soil well.
The above-ground mass is formed and expanded very quickly. The leaves form dense thickets, preventing weeding.
Radish is often grown to improve the soil, because its leaves contain essential oils that repel wireworm, nematodes, as well as reduce the risk of fungal diseases - rhizoctonia, potato scab.
The main advantages of this green manure crop are its cold resistance and drought resistance, unpretentiousness to the quality of soils, the ability to increase the root and leaf mass rapidly, phytosanitary properties, and tremendous help in weeds combating.
Radish- green manure crop is recommended to be cultivated in rows between the bushes of grapes, which promotes active growth of the vines. At the same time, it should not be planted it as a precursor of the cruciferous vegetables - small radish, all kinds of radish and cabbage.
Oil radish is sown from April to mid-August. With a later seeding, the yield from the green manure crop will be less, since the roots and green mass grows less, so the soil fertilizes worse. On free plots, with early sowing and mowing off during the budding season, you can get two or three crops per season. The greatest biomass is obtained when sowing oil radish as a green manure crop in spring, in April.
The radish is seeded in rows or in bulk. In case of row seeding, the consumption of seeds is much less - 200 g per one hundred square meters, and in bulk - 350-400 g. For a more even crop, it is recommended to mix the seeds with sand. The seeds are embedded in the soil for 3-4 cm, the distance between the rows is 15 cm. After 4-6 days, seedlings appear. An excellent result is the joint cultivation with spring vetch, which uses radish as a support.
Seed ripening occurs in 80-90 days. When growing as a green manure crop, it is necessary to mow it off in the period from the beginning of flowering to the formation of pods, usually 8-10 weeks after emergence of seedlings. The green mass is cut off, partially embedded in the upper layers of the soil, and the excess is used for artificial manure or as a mulch.
In case of late sowing the radish should be mowed off at the beginning of flowering, preferably two weeks before frost. If before the cold weather the plant has not blossomed, it is better not to cut it, it will keep the snow well in winter. In spring, before the main crops sowing, the green manure crop decomposes and saturates the soil with organic matter.
After decomposition in the ground, the radish biomass is converted into organic fertilizer. In comparison with legumes green manure, oil radish contains less nitrogen.
Application. The use of oil radish in the form of green fertilizer allows to increase air exchange and moisture capacity of the soil, improves the structure of the soil, and it is also an excellent protection against wind erosion. Oil radish is widely used in cooking, pharmacology, cosmetology. Also, is it used as raw materials for biofuels.