Following weeks of above average rainfall throughout the Midwest, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is granting Iowa farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs an additional two weeks to plant their winter hardy cover crop and still qualify for assistance.
The seeding date extension follows the Oct. 14 USDA announcement that only 19% of Iowa’s soybeans and 17% of corn were harvested. The five-year average is 51% of soybeans and 24% of corn harvested by the same date.
“The most recent crop report showed that corn harvest was four days behind average and soybeans were 11 days behind,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “This is the slowest bean harvest on record. This extension will give farmers more opportunity to get winter hardy cover crops seeded yet this fall.”
State Conservationist Kurt Simon says the two-week extension should allow many more farmers time to get cover crops planted but emphasizes the importance of planting them as soon as possible. “There is a very important window right now to get winter hardy cover crops established this fall,” he said. “The sooner cover crops get established the more benefits they will provide to crop production, soil health and water quality in the winter and spring.”
Examples of winter hardy cover crops include cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale and hairy vetch.
The revised cover crop seeding dates for winter hardy cover crops are:
Zone 1 (Northern Iowa) Nov. 5
Zone 2 (Central Iowa) Nov. 12
Zone 3 (Southern Iowa) Nov. 19
Farmers approved for financial assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops should contact their local NRCS office.