What’s That Mystery Molino Crop With The Yellow Flowers?

November 30, 2011

We received a lot of emails over the past few weeks asking about the unique yellow-flowering crop planted at Highway 29 and Highway 97 behind the Tom Thumb in Molino.

NorthEscambia.com turned to Libbie Johnson of  Escambia County Extension and to the farmer, Eric Koehn of Walnut Hill, to find out that the plant is called Sunn Hemp (that’s Crotalaria juncea L for the scientific types).

For a photo gallery, click here.

It is a semi-tropical plant that is grown as a cover crop in the southeast. It’s a legume, growing in a variety of locations and returning nitrogen to the soil. It can also be used as a biomass to produce biofuels.

“Because it grows so fast, it is really good for people looking to get something on their soil to prevent erosion or to build organic matter into their soils,” Johnson said. “It is touted as being resistant to root knot nematodes- a real problem for our local row crop producers, so it would be good to use in a rotation.  It takes about 8-12 weeks of growth for you to get the full benefit of the crop, so it’s best if it’s planted after corn or maybe a vegetable crop.  It wouldn’t have time to get going if planted after cotton or peanuts.”

Koehn said he planted the Sunn Hemp as cover crop to prevent erosion after he harvested corn from the field.  There were no plans to harvest the crop.

Pictured: Recent photos showing Sunn Hemp growing at Highway 29 and Highway 97 in Molino. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


15 Responses to “What’s That Mystery Molino Crop With The Yellow Flowers?”

  1. roller on December 2nd, 2011 10:25 pm

    for anybody wondering about more pics. its all been rolled down now the frost kills it

  2. no longer in Bratt on December 2nd, 2011 3:42 pm

    Who owns this property? and any idea how to contact him.
    I will be driving home over the weekend…and would love to get family pics for our Christmas card while we are “home.”— and would like permission before I am run off with a gun :-)

  3. regina gohagan on December 1st, 2011 7:16 am

    Crop on Robinsville Rd. is millet. It is across the road from our home and has been an interesting topic of conversation. We have enjoyed watching the preparation of the grounds, the measuring and planting, growth and harvest. Best comment was hearing “that’s the tallest corn I’ve ever seen.” Heard that numerous times!

  4. observer on November 30th, 2011 10:13 pm

    We stopped and ask a fellow about this weed and he told us it was a soil builder. He said it put something in the soil that made the soil better.

  5. William on November 30th, 2011 1:29 pm

    >>>Isn’t Crotalaria a common weed that is toxic to cattle? Flowers look similar

    From the info that Libbie Johnson (Extension Service) sent me:

    “Unlike other plants in the crotalaria family, newer varieties of sunn hemp are non-toxic to animals. It does look a good bit like showy crotalaria though.”

  6. Thinker on November 30th, 2011 1:14 pm

    Isn’t Crotalaria a common weed that is toxic to cattle? Flowers look similar. Can it reseed itself and go wild? Probably a cousin, yes? Glad to see someone’s using cover crops and green manure crops. Let’s all go organic. I bought a forty pound bag of Abruzzi Rye for my vegetable garden last year. Too much seed, but great, weed-killing and nematode reducing green manure crop for winter growth. The leftover seed had great germination this year so one forty pound bag was worth it.

  7. friction_against_the_machine on November 30th, 2011 10:31 am

    I had thought it was some sort of bio-fuel source glad to know the 411 on it…which brings up another question…anyone know what kind of crop is growing on Robinsonville Road (County Road 27) near Atmore? It looks experimental, and looks like corn without the ears. What’s the purpose?

  8. dick tracy on November 30th, 2011 8:48 am

    So…….can we dry it out …….& smoke it? HEMP?????? You laughed, didn’t ya???????

  9. Regina Gohagan on November 30th, 2011 7:16 am

    Thanks William for this information. I have asked friends and farmers and none knew what it was. Very beautiful crop and interesting article.

  10. Walnut Hill Roy on November 30th, 2011 7:03 am

    I too had wondered what it was, but being from Maryland i just figured that it was something that I wasn’t aware of. It’s good to know that I wasn’t the only one who was stumped by the identification of the crop.

  11. William on November 30th, 2011 6:56 am

    >>This would be a beautiful background for family pictures.

    It looks particularly interesting in black and white, sepia and other fun tones.

  12. Tina on November 30th, 2011 6:33 am

    This would be a beautiful background for family pictures.

  13. Ceci L. on November 30th, 2011 5:48 am

    Thanks, as always, for the good info. Been wondering about it for a long time!

  14. David Huie Green on November 30th, 2011 5:26 am

    Thanks, I’d wondered too

  15. Well on November 30th, 2011 5:13 am

    I noticed the Honey Bees seemed to like it so it may help them.