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The Clock's Ticking - The Timelines of Planting Cover Crops
Harvest may be later this year than what it has been in the past few years. For this reason, you may be wondering about when or if to plant cover crops into corn. Most cover crops that overwinter need about five to six weeks of growth for winterhardiness.
Cereal rye is a little more flexible and can be planted a little later than most others - it will still germinate at 34 degrees F.
The question is when is the right time to aerial apply cereal rye into corn. If you apply cereal rye when the corn is too green, then you may not get the seed to the ground or there may not be enough sunlight to survive below the crop canopy. If you wait until close to harvest, then there may not be enough time for growth before winter. Therefore, optimal timing is about when 50% of the sunlight is hitting the soil in a standing crop.
Wheat fields that did not have another crop after harvest have a lot more flexibility to plant cover crops now. Options are open for what type of crop to plant. The Midwest Cover Crop Council website contains some excellent information to help you with cover crop selection in these situations: (http://mcccdev.anr.msu.edu/).
The following chart gives an idea of the types of cover crops and when they should ideally be planted. As you can see, we are in the ideal time frame to plant cover crops now.
Ryan Moore is the cover crops specialist with Becks. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, your dealer or seed advisor for more information.