Cover crops are becoming more and more popular with Iowa producers due to their numerous benefits. Weather can play a large role in how successful the cover crops are, though. Late fall planting and cold springs are leaving some producers with little growth on their cover crop by the time planting season rolls around. Cover crop termination requirements dealing with crop insurance eligibility also play into this, especially before beans. [Cereal Rye should still be terminated 2 weeks prior to planting corn] Currently in central Iowa, crop insurance guidelines state that cover crops must be terminated at or within 5 days after planting a cash crop (7 extra days to terminate if no till). This could greatly reduce the amount of erosion and weed protection benefits farmers can see in the spring.
NRCS recognized this concern and created a process that would allow producers to delay terminating their cover crop and still be eligible for crop insurance. There are three steps in order to participate in this process.
Step 1: Check your RMA termination deadline
For central Iowa, you must terminate cover crops at or within 5 days after planting a cash crop. In some years, these guidelines still allow plenty of growth in the Spring. If you feel like you would like to let your cover crops grow longer than this, proceed to step 2. Keep in mind that this could lead to some changes in your current management plan for that field.
Step 2: Let your crop insurance agent know you will be requesting a deviation
Step 3: Request a termination deviation from your county NRCS office
This can be a great option for producers who wish to gain more growth on their cover crop for weed control and erosion benefits. This can also reduce the amount of nutrients that leach form the field during the rainy, spring months. Contact your local NRCS to learn more!
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