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Set to Plant Cover Crops?

Set to Plant Cover Crops?

Seven factors to consider before buying seed and heading to the field.

North Dakota State University Extension Service agents and specialists have the following recommendations on planting cover crops:

Some crops have rotation restrictions for insurability primarily due to disease issues. Don't plant a cover crop, either alone or as a part of a cocktail mix, this summer that will preclude you from insuring your intended crop in 2012. A cover crop is considered the same as a crop planted for harvest as it pertains to rotation restrictions. Contact your county Extension Service agent or Farm Service Agency office for cover crop recommendations.

Don't wait too long to plant a cover crop. Most crops should be planted no later than Aug. 5 through 10 to provide adequate time for the crop to develop to protect the soil.

Winter wheat for harvest in 2012 is a good choice for planting on prevented planted acres. However, delay the winter wheat planting until the optimum planting window, which is early to mid-September, and be sure the fields are free of grassy weeds for two weeks prior to planting. Winter wheat might be considered on fields with previous years of prevented planting because winter wheat may reduce the risk of having another year of prevented planting if next spring is again wet.

Know the source of the cover crop seed and adhere to plant variety protection (PVP) laws. Generally, it is a violation of the PVP agreement to plant the saved seeds of any crops with proprietary traits, even if it is just going to be a cover crop. For example, bin-run Roundup Ready seed of any crop cannot be planted as a cover crop.

Haying or grazing of a cover crop is permitted after Nov. 1. Haying or grazing earlier than that date will result in loss of 65 percent of the prevented planted payment and the crop will become part of the actual production history (APH). This means the 2011 yield will be 60 percent of the producer's APH. The combination of these factors is a large economic disincentive to early haying or grazing.

Keep in contact with your insurance agent. Let the agent know what your plans are for a cover crop on prevented planted acres and get assurances from the company that your insurance indemnity won't be compromised by what you intend to plant and how you plan to use it. It also is recommended that producers check with the FSA to make sure cover crop plans comply with their policy on use of prevented planting acres. For example, FSA regulations only recognize corn as a cover crop if solid seeded.

Keep written records of all correspondence with your insurance agent. It also can be beneficial to take photos of the cover crops as documentation because some fields will be checked for compliance with FSA cover crop rules.

Source: NDSU Extension Communications

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