Corn and soybeans as cover crops following prevented planting
MSU Extension recognizes the use of corn and soybeans as cover crops for prevented planting.
Challenging weather this spring has led to large prevented planting acres, shortages in cover crop seed supply and the need for emergency forage. Farmers are asking if they can plant a cover crop of the same crop they were prevented from planting. For example, if they were prevented from planting corn, can corn be planted as a cover crop without affecting the eligibility for the prevented planting payment. The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) addresses this in their Frequently Asked Questions for Prevented Planting Flooding as follows:
“An acceptable cover crop must be generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement is planted at the recommended seeding rate, etc. The cover crop may be the same crop prevented from planting and may still retain eligibility for a prevented planting payment. The cover crop planted cannot be used for harvest as seed or grain.” and
“RMA, NRCS and FSA do not have a list of approved cover crops. Producers should consult agricultural experts.”
RMA defines an agricultural expert as, “Persons who are employed by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service or the agricultural departments of universities, or other persons approved by Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), whose research or occupation is related to the specific crop or practice for which such expertise is sought (GOOD FARMING PRACTICE DETERMINATION STANDARDS HANDBOOK, pg 33).”
From RMA’s Frequently Asked Questions for Prevented Planting Flooding, Approved Agricultural Experts include personnel whose research or occupation is related to the specific crop or practice for which such expertise is sought with demonstrated expertise in the production practice in question, and is:
(1) Employed by Cooperative Extension Service or USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), formerly Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES);
(2) Employed by the agricultural departments of universities;
(3) Certified by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) as Certified Crop Advisers and Certified Professional Agronomists, https://www.agronomy.org/;
(4) Certified by the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC) as Certified Professional Crop Consultants, http://naicc.org/;
(5) Certified by the American Society for Horticultural Sciences as Certified Professional Horticulturists; or
(6) Certified by the International Society of Arboriculture as Certified Arborists.
Michigan State University Extension recognizes as agronomically sound the use of corn and soybeans as cover crops following a prevented planting crop in Michigan. Further, MSU Extension recommends for corn, seeding rates of 28,000 – 40,000 seeds per acre based on soil type, 30-inch or less row spacing, fertility to meet biomass/forage goals and herbicides and pesticides for weed and insect control. For soybeans, a minimum seeding rate of 150,000 seeds per acre, 30-inch or less row spacing, less is preferred, but not required and herbicides and insecticides for weed and insect control. (The sentences in italics were added June 28, 2019.) The extenuating circumstances of the 2019 growing season have led to large prevented planting acres, shortages in cover crop seed supply and the need for emergency forage. In light of these challenges, corn and soybeans are acceptable for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement.
To retain eligibility for prevented planting payment, these and other cover crops cannot be grazed or harvested for forage before September 1. If a cover crop is harvested on or after September 1 the insured can use or sell the forage and receive a full prevented planting payment provided all other policy provisions have been met. MSU Extension recommends that producers review their herbicide programs and seed treatments for livestock feeding restrictions when considering corn or soybeans as emergency forage. Also, for GMO seed, consult your seed contract and seed dealer to ensure that your seed can be used as a cover crop.
Farmers considering alternatives to their cropping plans including prevented planting can consult MSU Extension Delayed Planting Resources for additional information. Farmers should also consult their Farm Service Agency (FSA) and crop insurance agent when considering options for prevented planting acres.
Farmer are encouraged to use cover crop resources when considering cover crops for prevented planting. These include the MSU Extension Cover Crop website, Midwest Cover Crop Council (MCCC) website and MCCC Cover Crop Selector Tool. The MSU Extension Cover Crop Team is available to answer questions you may have about cover crops and their use.
This work is supported by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program 2017-70006-27175 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.