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CropTalk: Cover Crop Application and Timing

October 2021

Published on Friday, October 1, 2021

Now that the calendar has turned to October, it’s a great time to be thinking about cover crop decisions on your operation. If you are new to cover crops and are trying to figure out the best way to implement them on your farm, here are few suggestions to keep in mind.

 

FIGURE OUT HOW INTENSIVELY THIS CAN BE MANAGED IN THE FALL.

Fall is a very busy time with harvest, tillage (or lack thereof), and other applications being made. Will there be time for someone in the operation to effectively see that the cover crops are seeded timely this fall? There are many different seeding options when it comes to planting cover crops, and each one has its benefits. Application method and timing are what will drive what type of cover crop is planted.

 

 

POST-HARVEST APPLICATIONS HAVE THEIR BENEFITS AND WILL VARY BY GEOGRAPHY.

Whether using a grain drill, vertical tillage tool with a mounted air seeder, or broadcasting with a light incorporating pass, all are great options and provide excellent seed-to-soil contact that will accelerate germination and provide better root growth. However, since it is typically after harvest and closer to the first freeze dates, these methods can really limit what types of products can go in the cover crop mix. Winter rye is an excellent postharvest option in the fall ahead of what will be a spring soybean crop. Winter rye is the most common cover crop seeded. It is extremely winter-hardy and will germinate in colder conditions even as late as November in many geographies. Seed to soil contact in later plantings will yield better stands of rye. As with any cover crop, know what the product will look like in the spring and understand how it needs to be managed at burndown and planting.

 

 

NEW PRODUCT AND MIX OPTIONS.

If planted in the earlier part of October, Beck’s Soilbuilder is a great new mix. It is a blend of 60% oats, 30% rye, 6% radish, and 4% rapeseed. What we like about this mix is its versatility. It can be planted ahead of a corn or soybean crop at a rate of 35 lb./A. The oats and radishes will winter terminate when temperatures drop below 22 °F for a few hours. The small amount of rye and rapeseed will make it through the winter and will not be difficult to terminate and plant into next spring.

In summary, it’s important to maximize the dollars spent on cover crops as much as possible. Understanding the timing of applications and what products will winter terminate versus products that will make it through the winter plays into that equation. For more questions on cover crops please contact Ryan Moore at RMoore@BecksHybrids.com or 317.565.4059.

 

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Author: Ryan Moore

Categories: CropTalk, 2021

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