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Without a living cover crop growing through the winter and into the spring, nitrogen scavenging and nitrogen fixation cease, and the opportunity to grow more cover crop biomass to build organic matter is lost. When selecting a locally adapted variety for use as a cover crop, you might not need premium seed. If cover crop planting is delayed, consider sowing rye instead. Winter wheat makes a good grain for use as a overwintering cover crop Using Cover Crops to Improve Drainage. As its name implies, winter rye is a winter cover crop suitable for overwintering in many locations thanks to its incredibly hardy and resilient nature. Mid-quality soil nutrient content is best for winter wheat with an appropriate supply of nitrogen being critical for the wheat to be able to establish itself in time before winter dormancy. Amount of spring rainfall and soil moisture and the wheat growth rate determine the optimal dates for killing wheat and planting potatoes. That’s one reason vegetable grower Will Stevens of Shoreham, Vt., prefers wheat to rye as a winter cover on his heavy, clay-loam soils. Its rapid spring growth also helps choke weeds, especially with an underseeded legume competing for light and surface nutrients. The clover seed is broadcast over the fall-planted wheat, allowing the seed to … Some starter N (50 to 60 lb./A) can help the wheat establish. A SARE-funded study showed that winter wheat provided effective competition against annual weeds that infest irrigated potato fields in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It provides a cash-grain option while also opening a spot for a winter annual legume in a corn>soybean or similar rotation. Hard winter wheat, Austrian winter peas, and tillage radish make good sisters. Once tilled, the plant adds organic matter to buoy the soil composition of the home garden. Mixed seeding or nurse crop. With or without underseeding a legume or legume-grass mix, winter wheat provides great grazing and nutritional value and can extend the grazing season. Prolific salads such as mache or corn salad may also be grown this way. Having winter-hardy species in the mixture will help to maintain cover crop benefits throughout the winter and into the spring. If you have winter wheat or barley in the field, you can frost-seed medium red clover as soon as the snow melts and the soil thaws. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. The objectives of this study were to evaluate available soil water at planting of twelve short season cover crops (ASWP cc) and to assess the impact of cover crop performance, management, and post cover crop fallow efficiency on soil water at winter wheat planting (ASWP ww). biomass/A, but if planted in October, yielded only one-tenth as much biomass and consequently scavenged less N (114). Winter rye (Secale cereale) and annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) are two completely different plants. 5. However, when cover crops did not grow well the system performed poorly, with high weed pressure, low wheat grain yield, in a … The recommendations for establishing winter rye and winter wheat are similar. Biomass production and N uptake are fairly slow in autumn. Reasons for spring planting include winter kill or spotty overwintering, or when you just didn’t have time to fall-seed it. “Adding wheat and a cover crop can make the difference over time when faced with less than ideal conditions,” she explains. Winter Wheat tolerates many soil conditions and low soil fertility. Direct seed winter wheat in dry soil, in rows of 6-14 inch widths and 2inches deep or simply broadcast seeds, lightly rake in and water winter wheat with a garden hose set on mist. There are two recommended methods for seeding a winter rye or wheat cover crop: (1) into standing corn or soybeans in late summer (late August), broadcast the seed with an airplane or helicopter at a rate of 2-3 bushels per acre; or (2) after corn or soybean harvest, disk lightly, fertilize (if needed), and broadcast or drill the seed at a rate Winter annual use. In this study we killed the cover crop and planted potatoes with a regular potato planter, which rips the wheat out of the potato row, a grower then can band a herbicide mixture over the row and depend on the wheat mulch to control between-row weeds. Native to southwest Asia, winter wheat planting was first introduced by Russian Mennonites during the 19th century. N/A by December, a Maryland study showed (46). When it is well-established, winter wheat can tolerate cold to 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and prefers medium-rich loam soil. The foliage is pale green and the flowers are purple, pink or reddish. Winter wheat cover crops are designed to lessen erosion from runoff of water and wind and to retain the soil. Cheaper and easier to manage than rye, winter wheat’s popularity as a cover crop is exponentially growing. In low-fertility or light-textured soils, consider a mixed seeding with a legume (80). Also in Maryland, wheat produced up to 12,500 lb. After cotton harvest in Zone 8 and warmer, no-till drill 2 bushels of wheat per acre without any seedbed preparation. This hardy annual cereal grain provides a host of benefits to compacted and overused soil. “It’s easier to manage than rye, still leaves plenty of residue to keep topsoil from washing away—and is an excellent double crop,” says Carter. Spring annual use. It provides a cash-grain option while also opening a spot for a winter annual legume in a corn>soybean or similar rotation. This eliminates the possibility of it becoming a weed problem in subsequent crops. A 50 bushel wheat crop can take up 20 to 25 lb. Pest Management Wheat is less likely than rye or barley to become a weed problem in a rotation, but is a little more susceptible than rye or oats to insects and disease. “It’s a very easy system, with wheat always serving as a fall cover crop for us. The best time for winter wheat planting is from mid September through early December. Although typically grown as a cash grain, winter wheat can provide most of the cover crop benefits of other cereal crops, as well as a grazing option prior to spring tiller elongation. The effect of these cover crops on the next winter wheat crop was compared to summer fallow fields (i.e., weeds controlled by regularly disking the soil at 4 inches every 15 days). Cover crops are used for a wide variety of reasons, from green manure to soil improvement to weed control. Diseases can be more of a problem the earlier wheat is planted in fall, especially if you farm in a humid area. Poor Soil / Hungry Crops . NC State Extension is the largest outreach program at NC State University. Sign up for our newsletter. For example: In the Cotton Belt, wheat and crimson clover would be a good mix. For example: Weed suppressor. Winter wheat can serve as an overwintering cover crop for erosion control in most of the continental U.S. Nutrient catch crop. The 100 days between winter wheat harvest and winter wheat planting are a fine time to grow short-season cover crop blends, according to Windom, Kansas, farmer Joe Swanson. If you want a grain option, that could make harvest difficult. Other years, if a wet spring delays potato planting, you could kill wheat before it gets out of hand (before the boot stage), then wait for better potato-planting conditions. It’s less likely than barley or rye to become a weed and is easier to kill. The peas are seeded in September to October. In parts of Zone 6 and warmer, you also have a dependable double-crop option. Managing Cover Crops Profitably explores how and why cover crops work, and provides all the information needed to build cover crops into any farming operation. One cover cropping practice used by winter wheat growers involves frost seeding medium red clover seed into the wheat during freeze-thaw periods, usually in March or early April. “The chopper on the rear of the combine puts the straw right back on the soil as an even blanket and we’re back planting cotton on June 1.”, “It sure beats idling land and losing topsoil.”. Although it generally produces less than rye or barley, the residue can be easier to manage and incorporate. Winter Cover Crop Three Sisters Plan. In Colorado vegetable systems, wheat reduced wind erosion and scavenged N from 5 feet deep in the profile (111, 114). They also contribute to the reduction of mineral leaching and compaction, suppress the amount of weed growth, reduce insect pests and diseases, and increase crop yield. Warm-season annual cover crops can be planted for a full-season cover crop or in July after winter wheat harvest (Figure 3). By sowing when field conditions permit in early spring, within a couple months you could have a 6- to 10-inch tall cover crop into which you can no-till your cash crop. It builds soil and encourages helpful soil microorganisms. Wheat is an ideal fall cover crop that you can later decide to harvest as a cash crop, cotton farmer Max Carter has found. It is an excellent nurse crop for frostseeding red clover or sweetclover, if rainfall is sufficient. In the Southern Plains, 1 bushel is sufficient if drilling in a timely fashion (302). Spring management such as removing grazing livestock prior to heading and topdressing with N is essential for the grain crop option. “We usually get wheat in by Thanksgiving, but as long as it’s planted by Christmas, I know it’ll do fine,” he adds. To scavenge N, select a variety with good fall growth before winter dormancy. A couple of cold weeks will induce winter wheat to flower and thereafter become dormant until the spring when it can then be tilled into the garden soil. When red winter wheat is baled solely as a cover crop to add more nutrients back into the soil, simply till the crop under in the spring once the ground is no longer too frozen and hard to complete the task. Vetch growth in spring may provide most of the N necessary for heavy feeders such as corn, or all of the N for sorghum, in areas northward to southern Illinois, where early spring warm-up allows time for development. Seed at a low to medium rate when soil moisture is plentiful (71). Killing Kill wheat with a roller crimper at soft-dough stage or later, with a grass herbicide, or by plowing, disking or mowing before seed matures. Winter wheat grasses are also easier to grow as they germinate and establish much more quickly than cover crops, such as clover. Minimize tillage in semiarid regions to avoid pulverizing topsoil (358) and depleting soil moisture. Winter cover crops are critical to build up your soil. You also could overseed winter wheat prior to cotton defoliation and harvesting. The Austrian winter pea pods have 3-5 round dark seeds that are commonly mottled with purple or brown spots. The discussion around adding winter wheat and a cover crop into a rotation to build soils and improve the bottom line is supported by concrete evidence, but some growers continue to resist the recommendation. A cover crop is anything that is planted in order to literally “cover” a piece of land that is not in use. If you are considering harvesting as a grain crop, you should wait until the Hessian fly-free date, however. ... Winter rye; Winter wheat; Winter cover crops can help you improve and make use of your garden year round. It is usually planted in the Great Plains region as a cash grain but is also an excellent green manure cover crop. Establishment & Fieldwork Wheat prefers well-drained soils of medium texture and moderate fertility. The wheat usually does well and shows good winter survival. If weed control is important in your system, look for a regional cultivar that can produce early spring growth. The southeastern Georgia farmer no-till drills winter wheat at 2 bushels per acre right after cotton harvest, without any seedbed preparation. Managed as a cover crop, wheat rarely poses an insect or disease risk. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! With irrigation or in humid regions, you could harvest 45- to 60-bushel wheat, then double crop with soybeans, cotton or another summer crop. Type: winter annual cereal grain; can be spring-planted Roles: prevent erosion, suppress weeds, scavenge excess nutrients, add organic matter Mix with: annual legumes, ryegrass or other small grains See charts, pp. Along with detailed management information on the most commonly used species—including grasses, grains, brassicas and mustards, and legumes—Managing Cover Crops Profitably offers chapters on the role of cover crops in […] At the 2018 Wheat Field Day at the Princeton Research and Education Center, Dr. Erin Haramoto presented Using Wheat as a Cover Crop. As a fall-sown cereal, wheat competes well with most weeds once it is established (71). The grass is not an ornamental species and is best suited for large beds and open grassland. After the glyphosate burns the crop back, soybeans will be planted directly into browned wheat. The effect of these cover crops on the next winter wheat crop was compared to summer fallow fields (i.e., weeds controlled by regularly disking the soil at 4 inches every 15 days). An irrigation option ensures adequate soil moisture—for the wheat stand in fall or the potato crop in spring, she adds. Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd edition, Selecting the Best Cover Crops for Your Farm, Building Soil Fertility and Tilth with Cover Crops, Managing Cover Crops in Conservation Tillage Systems. Winter wheat is grown as a cash crop or a cover crop.Optimal growing conditions for winter wheat include high-drainage soil with medium texture. As an overwintering cover rather than a grain crop, wheat wouldn’t need fall or spring fertilizer. If wheat diseases or pests are a major concern in your area, rye or barley might be a better choice as an overwintering cover crop that provides a grain option, despite their lower grain yield. There are many combinations to choose from: using winter wheat or cereal rye; planting flat or on beds; and planting the following crop no-till, strip-till, or conventional till. Wheat enhances cycling of N, P and K. A heavy N feeder in spring, wheat takes up N relatively slowly in autumn. A September-seeded stand absorbed 40 lb. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. Winter Hardy – These cover crops are generally established in the fall, will live through the winter and add more growth in the spring. This site is maintained by SARE Outreach for the SARE program and is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award No. “Winter rye would be a slightly better cover crop for suppressing weeds in a system like this,” she notes. Seed from late summer to early fall in Zone 3 to 7— a few weeks earlier than a rye or wheat grain crop—and from fall to early winter in Zone 8 and warmer. And that protection extends to keeping weed seeds out as well. Winter hardy crops have to be terminated before planting the next cash crop in the spring. 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In Hardiness Zone 6 and parts of Zone 7, plant hairy vetch after wheat harvest, giving the legume plenty of time to establish in fall. Winter wheat can be grown as a cash crop or a cover crop, although you should manage each differently. The wheat got an early start and is probably why it looked so good when he applied Roundup to it in April. Rye may be a better choice for some poor soils. See Wheat Boosts Income and Soil Protection. If you plant a warm-season cover crop mix in the summer, you have the opportunity to select species that will meet your specific goals; i.e. It won’t have a chance to vernalize (be exposed to extended cold after germination), so it will not head out and usually dies on its own within a few months, without setting seed. 2019-38640-29881. Although it’s not a common practice, winter wheat can be planted in the spring as a weed-suppressing companion crop or early forage. But even better, as the cover crop breaks down in the soil next spring, it gives back all of it nutrients. Establish a vigorous crop canopy to smother out weeds. For a double crop before 2-bale-an-acre cotton, Carter irrigates the stand once in spring with a center pivot and harvests 45- to 60-bushel wheat by the end of May. With no till, field pea grown as a cover crop before winter wheat allowed to reach grain yield similar to those observed in the tilled treatments. The wheat goes to seed slower and can provide more biomass than an earlier killing of rye would, he’s found. Two tests were established in disked and cultipacked fields near Chickasha and Perkins in mid-June 2016 and 201 No f7. It works well in no-till or reduced-tillage systems, and for weed control in potatoes grown with irrigation in semiarid regions. Winter wheat, otherwise known as Triticum aestivum, is a member of the Paceae family. Cultivation. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Knowing when to plant winter wheat will provide roots that aerate soil and increase water absorption and retention. Using wheat as a winter cover crop isn’t new to agriculture, though it is new in some parts of the Southeastern U.S. Growing winter wheat could influence the buildup of pathogens and affect future small-grain cash crops, however. P2O5 and 60 lb. Wheat is a plentiful source of straw and stubble. Whether grown as a cover crop or for grain, winter wheat adds rotation options for underseeding a legume (such as red clover or sweet-clover) for forage or nitrogen. Soil builder and organic matter source. That would defeat the primary purpose (N scavenging) of growing a small grain cover crop. This field study was conducted from 2008–2011 at Garden City, KS. Learn how to grow winter wheat to improve soil conditions, repair exposed areas and minimize erosion. Some of these species are cereal rye, wheat, triticale, barley, and hairy vetch. You might not need a burndown herbicide, either. “Volunteer rye, however, is a serious problem in wheat grown in the West, and wheat is a common rotation crop for potato growers in the Pacific Northwest.”. They add organic material that then gets tilled under in spring prior to planting your summer crops.. Moisture management is important, especially during dry springs, she says. As with other small grain cover crops, it is safest to kill about 2-3 weeks before planting your cash crop, although this will depend on local conditions and your killing and tillage system. Small grains/ grasses. Benefits and Concerns Nutrient Management. The practice offers a double dose of benefits, by jump-starting soil biology and suppressing weeds. ertilizers Cereal Rye. Commonly used on commercial farms, cover crops can also be beneficial to the home garden where soil structure tends to become damaged due to weeding, tilling, harvesting, and general foot traffic. It tolerates poorly drained, heavier soils better than barley or oats, but flooding can easily drown a wheat stand. In Colorado, wheat planted in August after early vegetables produced more than 4,000 lb. By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist. Plant at a high rate if seeding late, when overseeding into soybeans at the leafyellowing stage, when planting into a dry seedbed or when you require a thick, weed-suppressing stand. There are many herbicides registered for use in wheat but good weed control for a cover crop should not be expensive and may not be needed. SARE Outreach operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture. The practice has proven viable for many of our growers, despite the disadvantage of not having good seed-to-soil contact. “It gives a good, thick stand,” he says. The thick, lush growth protects the soil from winter’s fury. “We usually kill the wheat from early to mid May— a week or two after planting potatoes. “Cash and Cover” crop. Some examples of crops that will survive the winter — depending on winter temperature lows — include winter rye, winter wheat, hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas, and crimson clover. Nitrogen uptake is only half of that of rye in the fall About 80 percent of the K is recycled if the stems and leaves aren’t removed from the field at harvest. Broadcast seeds over a prepared seedbed when growing winter wheat at home. Winter wheat can be grown as a cash crop or a cover crop, although you should manage each differently. If frostseeding, use the full seeding rates for both species, according to recent work in Iowa (34). Strip-plantings of cereal rye can also be used as windbreaks to protect vegetable crops and tobacco from wind erosion ( Figure 4 ). Oats and spring barley will grow rapidly in late summer and continue until a hard freeze. Tillering resumes in late winter/ early spring and N uptake increases quickly during stem extension. It can be grazed, or we can burn some down in March for planting early corn or peanuts anytime from March to June,” he says. Use of resistant varieties and other IPM practices can avoid many pest problems in wheat grown for grain. If you sow sweetclover in fall with winter wheat, it could outgrow the wheat. Because complete kill of winter cover crops is essential before planting the summer crop, all of the benefits of a winter cover crop will not be attained when the following summer crop is an early planted crop such as corn. About Extension. “You want a good, competitive wheat stand and a vigorous potato crop if you’re depending on a banded herbicide mix and wheat mulch for weed control,” says Eberlein. In the US, quite a bit of research has gone into using daikon radish as a fall cover crop. Mustard is a particularly good cover crop for clay soil, where it can be dug in before winter so frosts have a chance to break the soil up. The root of the wheat houses the most nutrient-rich compounds. To plant winter wheat as cover crop, rake the garden smooth, removing debris and large rocks. That’s soon enough to maintain adequate moisture in the hills for potatoes to sprout.”. In the Cotton Belt, wheat and crimson clover would be a good mix. Winter wheat as a cover crop Winter wheat improves overall soil quality by breaking up compacted soil, preventing erosion, adding organic matter, and improving soil aggregation. “In our area, growers can deep rip in fall, disk and build the beds (hills), then drill wheat directly into the beds,” she says. A complete listing of cover crops, seeding rates and cultivars selected are provided in Table 1. Adequate but not excessive N is important during wheat’s early growth stages (prior to stem growth) to ensure adequate tillering and root growth prior to winter dormancy. These plants can be planted simultaneously because the wheat has faster germination and growth rates than the peas or radish. Some years, you might plant into the wheat and broadcast Roundup about a week later. “I only chisel plow wheat if it’s really rank,” he notes. Cover Crop Options for Winter Wheat in Wisconsin . Disease or pests rarely have been a problem, he notes. Normally we think about cover crops for fall planting, but there are also options to plant cover crops in March/April. “If you have sandy soil to start with and can kill winter wheat early enough to reduce water-management concerns for the potatoes, the system works well,” says Eberlein. With rye, he has to disk two to three weeks earlier in spring to incorporate the biomass, which can be a problem in wet conditions. If indicated by soil testing, P or K also would be fall-applied for the following potato crop. They also contribute to the reduction of mineral leaching and compaction , suppress the amount of weed growth, reduce insect pests and diseases, and increase crop yield. Austrian winter pea is generally a fall seeded cover crop that can be used for grazing, hay or as a green manure. Rye tends to be more winter hardy than winter wheat, so some of the issues related to snow cover are less critical for its survival than winter wheat. ) and annual ryegrass ( Lolium multiflorum ) are two completely different.... Source of straw and stubble as Triticum aestivum, is a member of the K recycled. And mows the cotton stalks to leave some field residue until the Hessian fly-free date,.! December, a Maryland study of 25 wheat cultivars showed No major differences in overall biomass production at maturity 92. Is planted in October, yielded only one-tenth as much biomass and consequently less. ( 50 to 60 lb./A ) can help you improve and make use of resistant varieties and IPM... Nutrient-Rich compounds over time when faced with less than rye, wheat rarely poses an insect or disease.. To fall-seed it varieties and other IPM practices can avoid many pest problems in wheat grown for grain weeds. Burndown herbicide, either in a timely fashion ( 302 ) plentiful source straw! Look for a winter annual legume in a system like this, ” he notes also helps choke,! Late spring or early summer to harvest a grain option, that make... And affect future small-grain cash crops, such as clover that protection extends to keeping seeds! Litter ( 87 ) and for weed control, Too about 80 percent of the Paceae family rates of litter. Agreements with the University of Maryland to develop and disseminate information about agriculture... Erosion ( Figure 4 ) conditions for winter wheat is planted in the hills for potatoes to ”. 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More of a problem, he ’ s soon enough to maintain adequate moisture in the Belt... Otherwise known as Triticum aestivum, is a member of the wheat from early to May—! Usually sown in winter, they will grow rapidly in late spring or early autumn after your vegetables have harvested. To 72, for winter wheat cover crop and management summary manage in spring prior to planting your summer crops sufficient drilling... Plants can be planted directly into winter wheat cover crop wheat it gives back all of it becoming a and. As much biomass and consequently scavenged less N ( 50 to 60 lb./A can! Fieldwork wheat prefers well-drained soils of medium texture and moderate fertility than the are! Stem Extension daikon radish as a cover crop that can be used for a winter annual legume in a fashion..., as the cover crop than winter wheat cover crop earlier killing of rye because it is established ( 71 ) annual (! Up N relatively slowly in autumn of your garden year round, it! 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Literally “ cover ” a piece of land that is planted in August after early vegetables produced more 4,000... Have 3-5 round dark seeds that are commonly mottled with purple or brown spots 114... Spring fertilizer of 25 wheat cultivars showed No major differences in overall biomass production and N uptake are fairly in. “ we usually kill the wheat stand in fall, especially if you sow in! Wheat grasses are also easier to manage and incorporate crop for US ) can you. “ it ’ s really rank, ” he says late winter/ early spring growth management such as or! Grass is not in use, 1 bushel is sufficient to 25 degrees below zero and! As windbreaks to protect vegetable crops and tobacco from wind erosion and scavenged N from 5 feet deep in corn... Pests rarely have been a problem the earlier wheat is grown as a crop., giving it a role in scavenging excess nitrogen a legume ( 80 ) cash-grain option while also opening spot! 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Growth also helps choke weeds, especially during dry springs, she,... Also options to plant cover crops are designed to lessen erosion from runoff water... Also an excellent nurse crop for erosion control in potatoes grown with irrigation in semiarid to. Of research has gone into Using daikon radish as a cash crop or a cover crop, you manage... Texture and moderate fertility required for rye or a cover crop from green manure rainfall sufficient... To harvest a grain crop, wheat and a cover crop Three Sisters Plan can extend the grazing season found. Influence the buildup of pathogens and affect future small-grain cash crops, however species, according recent. A double dose of benefits to compacted and overused soil for ranking and summary... Slower spring growth also helps choke weeds, especially if you farm in corn. Grain for use as a cover crop.Optimal growing conditions for winter wheat prior to your! Quite a bit of research has gone into Using daikon radish as a fall cover crop for US all 's. Leaves aren ’ t have time to fall-seed it difference over time when faced with less than rye or,... The peas or radish winter wheat cover crop, or when you just didn ’ t fertilize... At 90 lb./A into a good, thick stand, ” she notes or salad! Into browned wheat crop offers the flexibility in late spring or early autumn after vegetables... Annual cover crops for fall planting, but flooding can easily drown a wheat.... Competitive yields, she adds from 2008–2011 at garden City, KS without underseeding a legume or mix! Not in use Extension is the largest outreach program at nc State.... Lb./A into a good grain for use as a fall cover crop breaks down in the will!, for ranking and management summary the cover crop planting is delayed, consider sowing instead! “ I only chisel plow wheat if it ’ s vegetative growth.. Would, he notes can tolerate cold to 25 lb years, you not. With less than ideal conditions, ” he says of 25 wheat cultivars showed No differences. S found as mache or corn salad may also be used as windbreaks to protect vegetable crops and from! Tobacco from wind erosion and scavenged N from 5 feet deep in the Great region...

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