Terminating Cover Crops

Jan 31, 2022

Cover crops have increased in popularity over the past 5 years and we are starting to see more green fields throughout the fall and winter. Cover crops have been a good fit for the area providing erosion control, winter grazing for cattle, and scavenging excess nutrients in the soil. These benefits have made them a priority to many growers in the area to get them seeded on in the fall for healthier fields in the spring. The question is when to terminate these crops. 

Some covers such as oats, turnips, radishes, all winter kill and require little to no management in the spring. But other cereal crops such as rye, wheat, triticale, all don’t winter kill and will need management in the spring. In my experience all of these cereal crops are easy to manage if they are sprayed while they are actively growing and before they get over 1ft tall. It is possible to let them get taller as we have all seen pictures of tractor planting into fields of cereal covers as tall as the hood but cover crops let go to that stage are much tougher to manage and at times require more than chemical products to control them. There are many ways of using cover crops in a cropping system. These are some of the ways that work best in Southern Iowa.