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Remember these prevented planting guidelinesRemember these prevented planting guidelines

5 tips to keep in mind when planting a corn cover crop on prevented planting acres.

July 9, 2019

3 Min Read
PLANTING DECISIONS: If you have prevented planting acres and want to plant a crop to get feed, contact your crop insurance adjuster first. sebasnoo/Getty Images

With the Risk Management Agency announcing that cover crops can be harvested for silage, haylage or baleage after Sept. 1 and still meet the requirements for full prevented planting payments this year, there are several things farmers should remember before planting a crop.

Each farmer who declares prevented planting must get approval from his or her crop insurance adjuster before any prevented planting management plan is implemented, according to Cornell University.

When planting on prevented planting acres, it is important to consider the economic tradeoff between the benefits to the cropping system and environment, as well as the potential for forage harvest with the input cost of successfully establishing the crop, including seed cost.

It is also important to verify the terms of any technology agreements signed for seed already purchased. It is a violation of the technology agreement and, therefore, illegal to plant grain (seed) that was harvested from a GMO corn crop.

Here are the changes for this year:

  • You can plant an acceptable cover crop on your prevented planting acreage if you do not graze, hay or use for silage before Sept. 1. Grazing or haying before Sept. 1 will forfeit your prevented planting payment.

  • The prevented planting cover crop may be grazed, hayed or used for silage, haylage and baleage. Any other use will lead to forfeiture of at least part of your prevented planting payment.

  • Silage corn has been added to the list of acceptable planting cover crops.

Gary Heckman, chief business services officer for Ag Choice Farm Credit, says via email that RMA has approved corn silage being used as a cover crop if it is planted at the recommended seeding rate and row width, and if it is not harvested before Sept. 1.

Jessica Williamson, assistant professor of forage management at Penn State, says that approval from a crop insurance adjuster is necessary to use corn as a cover crop on prevented planting acres before managing or planting any of that acreage. The economic and environmental benefits to the farm must be weighed when deciding how to manage prevented planting acres, she says. Determining the potential for forage harvest in combination with capital and labor inputs to successfully establish a cover crop should be evaluated.

Here are five things to remember if you plan to use corn on prevented planting acres:

1. Plant population. Higher populations lead to faster ground cover and help with weed suppression. Minimum populations upwards of 35,000 plants per acre are suggested.

2. Narrow-row spacing. Although traditional row spacing of corn meets the stated goals, using a more narrow-row corn planter — less than 30 inches — twin-row planter or a grain drill can lead to faster ground cover by the corn canopy and improved weed suppression.

3. Planting into residue. Seeding into fields with less than 30% residue provides some ground cover between planting and canopy establishment.

4. Pesticides. Herbicides should be used to help with weed control. Use care about pregrazing or preharvest restrictions after Sept. 1. Also, consider rotation restrictions for 2020 as a two-month delay from normal application timing may extend rotation restrictions beyond normal planting time in 2020.

5. Nitrogen. The most important nitrogen applied to corn is the first 40 pounds to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre. This may not be needed if nitrogen credits from manure or other sources apply.

The high nitrogen uptake of corn makes it especially well-suited where manure has already been applied. If you plan on applying more manure, rates on prevented planting acres should not exceed two-thirds of the planned full-season rates.

Williamson says that July plantings are not expected to produce mature grain in much of Pennsylvania. A killing frost usually occurs in early to mid-October in most of the state. If grain is produced and kernels develop beyond the milk-to-dough (R3-R4) stage, the crop should be terminated to follow RMA guidelines.

Source: Cornell University and Penn State University, which are responsible for the information provided and are wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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