Aerial services that fly on cover crops in the fall are working long days right now to get cover crops seeded. Many are seeding crops that will not have enough time to get a good start if farmers wait to harvest and then plant them, particularly since the crop maturity calendar is running behind this year.
Darrell Boone, a freelance writer for Indiana Prairie Farmer, says Jamie Scott and his family, Warsaw, are working 18-hour days right now helping operate a custom seeding business that flies on cover crops. This is their busy season because some of the more common cover crops, like annual ryegrass, ideally need to be seeded by Sept.15, or as close to that date as possible. Boone says he heard one of their planes coming in from spreading seed as the sun went down one evening just a few days ago.
The next step, of course, is up to nature. It's one of the hazards of aerial seeding instead of waiting and drilling. It typically takes rain to get the seed started. If it doesn't rain until Oct. 1, it may be like not planting the crop until Oct. 1. However, if you harvest beans first and it's Oct. 15 before you can get cover crops like annual ryegrass seeded this year, that likely won't give the cover crop enough time to get adequate growth before a hard freeze ends the growing season for this fall.
Visitors to the Farm Progress Show recently saw a variety of cover crops that were planted in July after wheat for demonstration purposes. The plots were irrigated. One of the many choices was annual ryegrass and crimson clover. If you're going to plant cover crops, most agronomists say that you need to know why you want it before you choose it. Are you trying to tie up N left after the season? Do you want N production next spring? Or are you trying to accomplish another goal? Answering these questions will lead you to a better mix for your purpose.