For the second time this fall, the deadline has been extended to allow Iowa farmers more time to get a cover crop seeded and still qualify for cost-share assistance. Due to the exceptionally wet fall and harvest delays for corn and soybeans, farmers need more time to get all their intended cover crop acres seeded.
“You have to get the corn and soybeans harvested first, before you can pull a drill into the field,” says Jasper County farmer Gene Kaldenburg.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and State Conservationist Kurt Simon with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced on Nov. 8 that farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs now have until Dec. 1 to plant their winter-hardy cereal rye cover crop and still qualify for assistance.
NRCS and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship both offer programs to help Iowa farmers with the cost of seeding cover crops. Less than a month ago, NRCS and IDALS extended the normal required cover crop seeding dates two weeks due to this fall’s late harvest.
It was extended for all winter-hardy cover crops. However, as of Nov. 8, the government agencies are extending the statewide seeding date to Dec. 1 for only cereal rye.
Kevin McCall, state resource conservationist for NRCS in Iowa, says late-seeded cereal rye can still be established this fall and provide key soil health and environment benefits if allowed to grow to at least an 8-inch height. For many producers, this could mean a mid-May termination date or later to realize the full benefits of cover crops.
Rules for extended seeding period
The following rules and recommendations apply to cereal rye planted during the extension period:
• Seed cereal rye as soon as possible after harvest of the principal crop, such as corn or soybeans.
• The cover crop will be no-till drilled into crop residue.
• Allow the cover crop to grow until at least 8 inches tall before spring termination.
• It is recommended the seeding rate of cereal rye be increased to 75 pounds per acre to adjust for reduced tillering of the rye.
• This extension does not apply to all federal programs. Contact your local NRCS office if you have questions.
“Farmers approved for cost-share assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops, even with this extension, should contact their local NRCS office,” McCall says.