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Plan for 2019 cover crops this winter

winter barley
SELECT SPECIES, VARIETY: Knowing that you might want to grow winter barley as a cover crop in 2019 isn’t good enough, experts say. Determine soon what variety to plant and find a source of seed.
It’s not too early to think about securing seed sources and examining seeding options for the 2019 cover crop season.

By Brian Musser

As the 2018 harvest comes to an end, it’s time to start thinking about the 2019 growing season by determining what corn hybrids and soybean varieties you want to plant, lining up fertilizer and herbicides, and making improvements to and tuning up your planter. Consider adding your cover crop seed selection for 2019 planting to your winter checklist.  

It was a difficult growing season in 2018 for cover crop seed suppliers, which led to tighter supplies despite an ever-increasing demand. By being proactive in taking the time now to discuss and select cover crop seeds you want to plant in 2019, you can ensure you’ll get the quantity of the cover crop seed you want.

More importantly, you can get the quality you need to ensure a successful 2019 cover crop planting. Ensuring you purchase quality cover crop seed with purity and germination preferably above 85% can result in purchasing less seed. Securing quality cover crop seed now will also ensure that there are low amounts of weed seeds and hard seed in the bag next summer or next fall.

The goal for your 2019 cover crop planting should be to purchase quality seed in the quantity that you need. The difference this year is that you need to explore and consider purchasing your cover crop seed as early as possible. Try to avoid waiting until after planting or wheat harvest to order your seed. It may be too late to get the quality and quantity you want.

Seeding methods
Planning your 2019 cover crop seeding now also lets you explore the various methods of planting cover crops, from interseeding at V3 to V7 growth stages in corn to using a high-clearance rig to aerial seeding or even seeding after harvest.

There is now a wide range of planting methods available to seed cover crops in a timely manner and be fully successful. The use of at least two different planting methods will allow you to maximize your efficiency.

The bottom line is that you need to be proactive in purchasing your cover crop seed for 2019 and into the future. It allows you to secure the quality and quantity you need while exploring different seeding methods. 

Contact your local soil and water conservation districts for assistance in achieving a successful 2019 cover crop planting.

Musser is a district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He writes on behalf of the Indiana Conservation Partnership.

TAGS: Conservation
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