Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and State Conservationist Kurt Simon with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs now have until Dec. 1 to plant their winter hardy cereal rye cover crop and still qualify for assistance.
The NRCS and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship both offer programs to help Iowa farmers pay to seed cover crops. Less than a month ago they extended the normal program-required cover crop seeding dates two weeks – due to late harvest – for all winter hardy cover crops. Today, the government agencies are extending the statewide seeding date to Dec. 1 for only cereal rye.
Kevin McCall, State Resource Conservationist for NRCS in Iowa, says late seeded cereal rye can still be established this fall and provide key soil health and environment benefits if allowed to grow to at least an 8-inch height. For many producers this could mean a mid-May termination date or later to realize the full benefits of cover crops.
The following applies to cereal rye planted during the extension period:
- Seed cereal rye as soon as possible after harvest of the principal crop.
- The cover crop will be no-till drilled into crop residue.
- Allow the cover crop to grow until at least 8 inches before spring termination.
- It is recommended the seeding rate of cereal rye be increased to 75 pounds per acre to adjust for reduced tillering.
- The extension does not apply to all federal programs. Contact your local NRCS office if you have questions.
Farmers approved for cost-share assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops should contact their local NRCS office.