Expanding the Seeding Window for Cover Crops

Are you looking for ways to expand your cover crop* seeding window? Here in Wisconsin, the cover crop species options after harvest are rather limited. For instance, this year in Columbia county, planting a cover crop into a field planted in corn for grain on June 1 with a projected harvest date of October 15 results in only one choice with no freeze risk to establishment according to the Midwest Cover Crops Council selector tool- cereal (winter) rye.

Seeding a cover crop into an existing corn crop before harvest is a strategy to extend the number of cover crop species that will establish good stands before frost. Farmers in Indiana have been using modified high-clearance sprayers to seed cover crops before the main crop harvest. Want to learn more? Dan Perkins, an Indiana Extension agent, provides a detailed discussion in his video.

*What is a cover crop? It is a crop planted between main crops that is NOT intended for harvest. For a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of different cover crop species, consult the Midwest Cover Crops Council website or “Managing Cover Crops Profitably”, for a free pdf copy go here. Also, the Midwest Cover Crops Council in partnership with the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center have produced a handy pocket guide to cover crops. To purchase, visit this site.

In the toolbox: the Weedometer

The Weedometer is a tool built by Ed Luschei, a former Department of Agronomy faculty member, using data collected from the Weed Garden at the Arlington Research Station from 1998 until 2001. The Weedometer will chart emergence and flowering times for a wide array of weed species at many locations throughout the United States.

The Weedometer website has detailed instructions for using the tools. The following diagrams provide abbreviated instructions for how to use the Weedometer. Click on the image to make it larger.