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Cover crop strategies for flooded Iowa fields

Cover crop strategies for flooded Iowa fields

By Andi Anderson

Recent heavy rainfall in Iowa has left many fields flooded, creating conditions unsuitable for traditional planting. For farmers dealing with delayed or prevented planting scenarios, it's crucial to consult with crop insurance providers about the implications and consider planting cover crops.

The Ag Decision Maker File A1-57 offers detailed guidance on insurance provisions related to late planting and prevented planting decisions.

Farmers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this information and additional resources on late corn and soybean planting options to make informed decisions based on practical and economic considerations.

If opting for a prevented planting provision, experts strongly recommend planting a cover crop or an emergency forage crop, rather than leaving the field fallow.

This approach helps maintain soil health and provides potential economic benefits. It's important to check herbicide labels used in past and current seasons for any restrictions that might affect cover crop planting.

Cover Crop Choices:

  • Soybeans: Ideal for prevent plant fields, soybeans should be planted using narrow rows or broadcast methods to enhance canopy closure and weed suppression. Note that soybeans cannot be harvested for grain and may be sensitive to residual corn herbicides.
  • Spring Cereals: Such as oats, wheat, and barley are suitable for planting up until September 15. They may reseed themselves if disked after shattering, providing coverage through fall.
  • Brassicas: Including turnips, kale, forage rape, and radishes, should be planted later in the summer for optimal biomass production. They pair well with cereal grains and offer excellent frost tolerance for autumn grazing.
  • Legumes: Like crimson clover and hairy vetch, require careful timing for August planting to ensure successful overwintering.
  • Winter Cereals: Rye, wheat, and triticale can be sown as early as August. For cover purposes, minimum seeding rates are recommended, with higher rates for those aiming to maximize forage output in spring.

Farmers should consider these options carefully, weighing the benefits of each crop type against their specific field conditions and long-term management goals.

Effective planning and execution of cover crops can significantly diminish the impacts of a challenging planting season, ultimately sustaining the health and profitability of farms in Iowa.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-mvburling

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Categories: Iowa, Crops

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