Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and state agronomist Barb Stewart with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa announced on October 28 that farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs now have until Nov. 15, 2014 to plant winter hardy cover crops and still qualify for assistance.
The seeding date is extended following the results of the latest Iowa weekly crop conditions survey conducted statewide by USDA's National Ag Statistics Service office in Des Moines. The survey shows that as of Sunday October 26 only 81% of Iowa's soybeans and 36% of the corn were harvested. "The crop report indicates both corn and soybean harvests are behind the five-year average," notes Northey. "Extending the deadline to November 15 will allow additional farmers to get cover crops planted while still benefiting water quality."
Cover crops seeded late can still provide erosion protection
Winter hardy cover crops include cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale, among others. An extension for getting fall-seeded cover crops planted was given to farmers last year, too, following a late harvest. "Late seeded winter hardy cover crops provided adequate spring growth for erosion control last year when allowed to grow to at least eight inches tall before termination in the spring," says Stewart.
Guidance from Iowa State University agronomists confirms that cover crops planted through the Nov. 15 deadline will still have the potential to provide a substantial reduction in nutrient losses and soil erosion.
The following rules apply to cover crops planted in the extension period (Oct. 16 to Nov. 15):
Cover crops will be seeded as soon as possible after harvest of the principal crop.
The cover crop to be seeded must be winter hardy (i.e. cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale).
The cover crop will be no-till drilled in crop residue.
Allow cover crop to add growth as long as possible in the spring prior to termination to maximize benefits. (Must be allowed to grow until at least 8 inches for those participating in federal programs)
The extension does not apply for all federal programs. Contact your NRCS office if you have questions.
Farmers who are approved for cost-share assistance and who are still unable to plant cover crops should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.