The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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White radish: It's hot stuff as a cover crop 2012.01.18

Written by David Green.


radish rootIt’s the latest greatest thing in cover crops, says Nathan McNett, a soil technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Adrian.

He’s talking about what’s known as the daikon radish in the Far East where the root crop is eaten.

Here in the corn country of Lenawee County, the daikon is called white radish, oil-seed radish, fodder radish, groundhog radish or forage radish.

It’s also commonly known as the Tillage Radish, but that’s a trade name owned by a Pennsylvania company that claims its radish is the best.

Although it’s been used as a cover crop in parts of the United States for several years, this marks the second year of planting in Lenawee County, as far as McNett knows.

McNett isn’t surprised by the growing popularity of radish because the benefits are many.

“It seems to be really great,” he said.

While most people might picture the radish as a small round root crop enjoyed from the summer garden, the white radish produces a long tuber that can easily reach a foot in length and several inches in circumference.

All that organic matter enriches the soil and releases nitrogen. The tap roots can grow several feet deep, and the main body of the radish bores a good size hole into the soil.

It’s adding organic matter and breaking up soil at the same time, McNett said, and with heavy equipment operating on fields, soil compaction is a problem for many growers.

The crop’s root system can alleviate the need for deep tillage, and as the roots decompose, channels are opened in the soil that a subsequent crop can take advantage of. The process is know as “bio-drilling” and it improves root access to subsoil moisture. The result is a more resilient crop if drought conditions arrive.

“When the radish rots away, it leaves a gaping hole,” McNett said, “and that lets a lot of water in. We hope it will allow equipment to get in the field earlier.”

There’s no need to cultivate the radish in the spring because of its quick decomposition and that’s going to lead to a reduction in fuel used.

Researchers have looked at the allelopathic characteristics of the radish—biochemicals produced that suppress the growth of other plants. The radish has been found to interfere with the growth of some weeds even after it’s died off over the winter.

According to University of Maryland soil science professor Ray Weil, the radish takes up nitrogen and other nutrients from both the topsoil and deeper soil and stores it in tissues near the surface. This makes nitrogen available for the next crop, he said, and also prevents excess nitrogen leaching into groundwater during the off-season.

So much for the subsurface work of the radish. There are more benefits on top of the ground.

When planted in the early fall, the radish quickly forms a dense canopy that suppresses weeds and this leads to a savings on herbicides and cultivation.

Compared with traditional cover crops or winter weeds, the radish allows seedbed soil to warm and dry out faster in the spring.

The canopy of the radish helps prevent soil erosion when the plant is growing, and after it’s decomposed, the holes left behind collect rain to trap sediment before it leaves the field.

Research is pointing toward increased crop yields in many cases where radishes are grown.

Just north of Morenci, Gary Gallup of State Line Farms has radish planted in rows, but some growers fill in the empty space with winter pea or another cover crop.

McNett said a few test plots were grown last summer at the Raymond-Stutzman Farm that involved radish mixed with other crops.

McNett wanted to get some personal experience with the radish and planted a few in his garden. He’s looking forward to the benefits of bio-drilling in the compacted soil of his own back yard.

Gallup wonders how many people are enjoying the radishes he has planted along M-156. Cars are occasionally spotted off to side of the road, with someone in the field investigating the odd-looking vegetable.

“We had one for our Thanksgiving dinner,” Gallup said. “It tastes just like a regular radish.”

There will be an odor

Among the multitude of benefits of the white radish, there’s one characteristic that might not be enjoyed. When the weather warms after the winter kill-off, there’s going to be an odor. The decaying plant gives off a sulphur smell.

Last year in several areas of Ohio, fire departments were getting calls to investigate leaking propane. The searches proved futile until the real culprit was found.

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