Cover crop seeding into standing crops or after harvest?

Cover crops have gained in popularity in the Corn Belt over the last few years, and now is the time of year they are being seeded.  Some producers have already flown on cover crop seed into their standing corn or soybean crops, while others are waiting to drill or seed the cover crops after harvest.  With the delayed crop maturity and later harvest in some areas of the Corn Belt this year, it could be a good year to try seeding by air or with ground-based high clearance equipment, especially if seed is already purchased for species needing several months of moderate temperatures to grow.  Brassicas, legumes, and oats, for example, should be seeded no later than the third week in September for much of the Corn Belt, and flying them on now could still give some benefit to the soil.  Cereal rye is the most hardy of the cover crops grown in the region and can be successfully seeded after harvest throughout the region, and would be a good choice after corn harvest this year, particularly if next year’s crop will be soybeans.  Producers should consult the Cover Crop Selector Tool from the Midwest Cover Crops Council ( for recommended seeding dates for their state and county, as well as seeding rates, depths, and other tips.  It is important for producers to do their homework on fitting cover crops into their overall systems, however, including choice of cover crop based on next year’s cash crop and the method and timing of termination in the spring.

Video: Cover Crops – Fall Seeding … This short video features an aerial seeding
demonstration at a field day in Iowa on September 11, 2013.  Aerial
seeding of cover crops has been in full swing for the past two weeks in Iowa
and will continue as crops mature across the state.

    This entry was posted in Cover Crops by Eileen Kladivko. Bookmark the permalink.

    About Eileen Kladivko

    Dr. Eileen J. Kladivko is Professor of Agronomy at Purdue University, where she teaches and does research in soil physics, soil biology, and soil management. Her overall research focus has been to identify soil management systems that improve environmental quality and promote agricultural sustainability.

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