DES MOINES | Farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs now have until Nov. 15 to plant winter hardy cover crops and still qualify for assistance.

The seeding date was extended following the announcement that only 81 percent of Iowa’s soybeans and 36 percent of corn were harvested as of Oct. 26.

“The crop report indicates both corn and soybean harvests are behind the five-year average,” said Bill Northey, Iowa secretary of agriculture. “Extending the deadline to Nov. 15 will allow additional farmers to get cover crops planted while still benefiting water quality.”

Winter hardy cover crops include cereal rye, winter wheat and triticale, among others. An extension was given to farmers last year, too, after a late harvest.

“Late-seeded winter-hardy cover crops provided adequate spring growth for erosion control last year when allowed to grow to at least 8 inches tall before termination,” said state Agronomist Barb Stewart.

Guidance from Iowa State University confirmed cover crops planted through the Nov. 15 deadline still have the potential to provide a substantial reduction in nutrient losses and soil erosion.

The following applies to cover crops planted in the extension period (Oct. 16-Nov. 15):

• Cover crops will be seeded as soon as possible after harvest of the principal crop.

• The cover crop to be seeded must be winter hardy (i.e. cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale).

• The cover crop will be no-till drilled in crop residue.

• Allow cover crop to add growth as long as possible in the spring prior to termination to maximize benefits. (Must be allowed to grow until at least 8 inches for those participating in federal programs.)

• The extension does not apply for all federal programs. Contact your NRCS office if you have questions.

Farmers approved for cost-share assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.

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