New to Cover Crops? Make Sure You Terminate Them In Time

01:45PM Jan 28, 2020
Cover Crop
Cover Crop
( Sonja Begemann )

The nightmare of 2019 is over—or is it? The long-tail implications of prevent plant have yet to play out in 2020.

“I experienced prevent plant issues from many angles - as a farmer, crop insurance agent, and as a seedsman. Unfortunately, we were only able to plant 20% of our crop in 2019,” says Glen Newcomer, corn and soybean farmer from Bryan, Ohio.

Ohio had 1.6 million acres of prevent plant (PP) in 2019, making it second only to South Dakota’s 3.9 million PP acres. All told, farmers took PP on 20 million acres—an astonishing new record. This unprecedented event had farmers looking for solutions, something to offset erosion, suppress weeds and stop fallow field syndrome. For many that meant using cover crops.

On Newcomer’s farm, they planted about 1,000 acres of oats on PP acres and received incentive from EQIP. Oats winterkill, so he doesn’t have to work about termination and will plant into the residue come spring.

For farmers with cover crops that don’t kill overwinter, you’ll need to get in and decimate the crop. Consider weather conditions to determine the best time before planting.

Here are a few tips from Iowa State University on how to terminate cover crops:

  • If using herbicides, consider cover crop type and growth stage. Some species are easier to kill than others. Winter wheat, annual ryegrass and red clover can be more difficult to control with herbicides.

  • Tillage can effectively kill the cover crop and integrate the biomass into soils while preparing the seedbed. USDA NRCS does caution farmers who are considering this method as it could lead to compaction in wet conditions.

  • Crimping/rolling eliminates the risk of shading from cover crops. However, not every cover crop is a good candidate for crimping or rolling. Cereal rye (after pollen shed), hairy vetch (at full bloom), barley and triticale are good for rolling. Cover crop mixes aren’t always the best candidates because the various species are at different growth stages.

“When something like PP is thrown your way you can either respond positively or react negatively,” Newcomer says. “We tried to make the best out of a bad situation. We’re trying to set the stage for success in 2020. This year we’ll be able to plant all of our acres—I know that’s not the case for everyone—but we’re fortunate to have all of that prevent plant ground ready to go now.”

Read more crop news here:

2019 Prevent Plant Still has Market Implications

New Soybean Pre-Emergent Herbicide Targets Pigweeds

What Planting Mistake in 2019 Cost Farmers $250 Per Acre?