Sponsored By
indiana Prairie Farmer Logo

Kill your cover crop now? Daniel Perkins says 'no way!'Kill your cover crop now? Daniel Perkins says 'no way!'

Farmers who seeded cover crops early concerned about tall growth.

Tom Bechman 1

September 28, 2015

2 Min Read

By Tom J. Bechman

Some pictures of cover crops sown for only five to six weeks coming out of places like northwest Indiana where many crops were devastated earlier are almost unbelievable.

Related: Get to know the 'Cover Crop Guy'

The cover crops, planted for barely over a month, are lush and growing taller each day. That's because since crops were already abandoned in some cases cover crops could be planted early. Many cover crops prefer to be planted earlier than what is usually possible after row crop harvest.


The question now is whether the picture is beautiful or scary, says Daniel Perkins, the self-proclaimed cover crop guy and coordinator of the Iroquois Watershed and based in the Jasper County Soil and Water Conservation District Office.

Perkins says he understands the sentiment. He has checked out fields that are already lush with cover crops. He's actually had farmers ask him if they should kill the cover this fall since it is so tall. Their concern is if it is extremely tall next spring and they burn it down, it may be difficult to plant into it.

"I understand their point, but today we have planting equipment that can plant into almost anything," he says. "The problem is that if you kill it this fall, you lose at least half of the potential benefits coming from the investment you made in the cover crop. I strongly believe that even if cover crops are tall already this fall, you can handle them next spring and reap the benefits. Leave them alone and don't touch them this fall."

Related: Cover crops are silver lining at epicenter of Indiana flood damage

One field that Perkins has visited was seeded after mid-August. One week ago the mix of radishes, oats and cereal rye was already several inches high, with radish roots running several inches deep.

"That's what you want because you want to break up soil compaction," he says.

Perkins says that radishes and oats are high in nitrogen compared to carbon. They will freeze out over winter and residue will melt away. If you shoot to kill the cereal rye at about a foot tall next spring, you will get the most benefit from the cover.

You can view his video walking this particular field on You Tube. To reach Perkins, email: [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like