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Modern Planters Will Plant Through Standing Cover CropsModern Planters Will Plant Through Standing Cover Crops

You can burn down the cover crop first, or wait until after planting.

Tom Bechman 1

May 29, 2013

1 Min Read

Those who are trying cover crops for the first time may not want to try planting into standing cover crops, but there are some advantages.

If it's a grass-type cover crop, an advantage for letting the cover crop grow longer is that it sends roots deeper. If it's a legume, it will likely produce more nitrogen. It also doesn't leave a mat of dying material to keep the soil wet if you burn the cover crop down and then it rains before you get a chance to plant it.


However, one issue with planting into standing cover crops is problems with planting equipment. If you're using row cleaners to clear a path for the seed openers, can they operate without wrapping up cover crop plant material into the spokes or around the residue wheel hub? The same is true of closing wheels. Can they operate without plugging or serving as rakes to gather up material that then interferes with proper planting?

Larry Huffmeyer, a Syngenta rep and farmer near Napoleon, planted into crimson clover that had not been sprayed. He planted in early May, and the clover was about 18 inches to two feet tall. He was pleasantly surprised that he didn't encounter problems with wrapping around planter parts, at least not to any significant degree.

Instead, the living cover crop did not prove to be a problem for the planting process, he concludes.

For more, download our free report, Cover Crops: Best Management Practices.

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.

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