Cover crop planting popular in seed corn

Published: Oct. 8, 2019 at 4:43 AM CDT
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While harvest is starting up, so is planting as some farmers try to help their soil and water quality with cover crops. Seedcorn, in particular, is good to plant on, it is harvested much earlier in the season than other row crops so the ground has more time vulnerable to the elements.

In Benton County Iowa, there are several thousand acres of seed corn and Shannon Moeller with the Iowa Seed Association checks out oats and rye cover crops starting to grow.

She works with growers to get cover crops on their seed cornfields and says farmers are using cover crops for the right reason, "About 50% of our participants are planning to use cover crops on some of their commercial acres as well, so I think that shows that there definitely is an interest in cover crop and it's a way to improve Iowa's water quality and a way to improve a farmer's field."

Moeller is the project coordinator of the Iowa Seed Corn Cover Crops Initiative, a partial cost-share project encouraging the use of cover crops on seed corn acres. It has been going on for four years and is funded through an Iowa Department of Agriculture grant.

She says this year it's been so popular there's a waitlist, but wet weather has hurt cover crop seeding. Just like in spring planting, farmers need good weather to drill them, seed with fertilizer, use aerial seeding, or a high clearance sprayer.

Moeller says, "It's been challenging already early on, so there are probably going to be a few thousand acres that don't get seeded, but currently we have about 45,000 acres of interest on seed corn production."