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There's still time to seed a cover crop after corn harvestThere's still time to seed a cover crop after corn harvest

Cover crop choices are narrower, but you can still establish a good cover this fall.

Tom Bechman 1

September 30, 2016

2 Min Read

Getting a cover crop seeded early into standing corn didn’t work out. Can you still establish a cover crop after harvest this fall?

The answer is yes. It may take some management, but it definitely is still possible. You don’t have to leave the field bare over winter just because you don’t have a cover crop seeded yet.

The following information was prepared by the Indiana Conservation Partnership. Specifically, these suggestions come from Don Donovan, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Cover crops after corn harvest


You want to plant a cover crop after corn harvest, but the dilemma is that since your corn was planted relatively late last spring, your crop will not be ready to harvest until mid-October or later.

In most parts of Indiana, once the calendar reaches the first of October, cover crop options are greatly reduced. While wheat is a possibility, most farmers planting a cover crop after corn harvest are using either cereal rye or triticale, which is a cross between cereal rye and wheat. 

Donovan says both of these cover crops can be planted throughout the state into late October and provide excellent cover crop results.  Both species are spring growers. They will do most of their growing after spring warmup. There are many testimonials from farmers indicating they have planted cereal rye successfully even in early November. Sometimes they don’t report lots of growth in the fall, but the crop takes off growing in the spring. 

These species can be planted in many ways, Donovan says. You can use a planter or drill, mix seed with fertilizer and spread it, or spread seed directly with a seeder. However you choose to plant it, a cover crop will provide you with excellent benefits as you plan your next crop, Donovan concludes.

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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