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Some Cover Crops Got An Early Start

Some Cover Crops Got An Early Start
Aerial application into standing corn helps get cover corps started.

If you see your neighbor finish shelling corn and then drive by a few days later and see sprigs of green between the rows, you may be looking at cover crops, not weeds. Those who are serious about making cover crops work are figuring out various ways to get them seeded in a timely manner so they have ample time to grow in the fall.

One way that has been practiced for years still makes sense. That's aerial seeding by a competent ag aviation service. There is a difference. One farmer a year ago contracted to have a large field aerially applied for rye. He soon noticed as it came up that a large strip, amounting to eight acres, was missed.

Off and Running: These small plants are already going even though the corn is still standing. This mixture of cover crops was applied aerially.

In other cases, applications are much more accurate. One farmer who used aerial application in some cases this fall to get cover crops started earlier in standing corn says he has good results with aerial applicators.

He seeded 20 pounds per acre of crimson clover, annual ryegrass and radishes into different corn fields over a period of a week or ore. The earlier the seeding occurs, the quicker the start for the cover crops. A quick start is important so that there is enough growth to protect the soil and help the cover crop make it through the winter, or get big enough to get some rooting depth into the soil in the case of crops that don't survive the winter.

This farmer says he probably could have applied only 15 pounds if he was making a ground application, but he's happy with the results from the aerial application. He applied a mix of about 50% annual ryegrass, 30% crimson clover and 30% forage radishes.

The forage radishes won't overwinter, but they do put down a good root system if they get big enough this fall. He included them because there is some anecdotal evidence that the radishes might help in reducing soybean cyst nematode activity.

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