The 2013 rules for grazing cover crops in fields going to commodity crops and that will be insured with federally-backed crop insurance for that commodity crop are different than in the past.
The change to allow spring grazing was made for 2013 only by the Risk Management Agency due to the severe drought that affected amount of forage harvested in 2012 in many areas.
Even with the one-year exception, haying and grazing of cover crops was supposed to end by May 10, if the following crop was to be eligible for insurance. At issue is the fact that in typical years RMA considers a cover crop as a crop if it is grazed or harvested, and the following crop would be handled differently for crop insurance purposes.
Last week RMA issued an extension on the already special 2013 haying and grazing allowance on cover crop acres due to the cool, wet start to spring in many states. The extension allows haying and grazing until May 22 in seven states, including Indiana.
However, there is a catch. You need to contact your Approved Insurance Provider, the person who buy crops insurance form, and seek approval before you turn your livestock back into the field or make hay. Decisions may be made on a case by case basis. Make sure you have permission before you attempt to cash in on this extra week of grazing potential.
Normally you would want cover crops burnt down by now. However, in some areas it may have been too wet even to burn off covers with a herbicide application so far.
There is still a date stated in your policy by which the cover crop must be terminated. That date has not been changed. The planting date for the commodity crop has also not been changed. You may want to contact your crop insurance agent or RMA for more details.
Thinking About A Cover Crop? Start With Developing A Plan
Taking time to design your cover crop plan will increase the successful establishment of the crop and potentially allow for improved staggering of fall harvest.