Are you covered on cover crops?
You can mix oats with it in the North or triticale and cereal or annual rye with it in the South. In the spring, the grains keep growing, protect the soil from erosion and slowly release nutrients, while the radish dies back and releases its nutrients early.”
Knowing which cover crop to recommend is getting increasingly complicated as more species and varieties of a species become part of the mix. Wohltman spent 10 years in ag retail and now works with retailers throughout the Midwest. He argues that it is the responsibility of the cover crop seed industry to educate retailers on how to work with cover crops.
“We need to make sure we have trained retailers on what the product does, and not just to take an order,” said Wohltman. “Retailers who integrate cover crops into the conversation sell 100 to 150 percent more seed than those who wait for the farmer to bring it up.”
Retailer Ceres Solutions understands how important the “conversation” is and how important it is to have it early. “We look at cover crops as an opportunity and take a proactive approach,” said Betsy Bower, Ceres Solutions. “We want to help our customers have a plan in place for cover crops just as they do for their cash crops.”
The plan, she explained, is important for grower and retailer. Depending on the grower goals, the cover crop mix may need to be changed or the cash-cropping plan may need to be changed.
“If the grower is intent on planting cover crops early, we may need to recommend a shorter season soybean or, depending on the desired mix, a more careful choice of residual herbicide,” suggested Bower.
PLAN AHEAD FOR EQUIPMENT NEEDS
For Ceres, a well laid out plan allows the retail outlet to have the desired seed on hand and have the right equipment in place if application service is requested, whether aerial, spinner spreader or airflow. Matching equipment to the particular seed is vital, suggested Kim Wampler, branch manager, Frichton Branch, Ceres Solutions. With three years of fast growing cover crop business under his belt, he has a good feel for assigning equipment. Triticale and wheat can go out on a spinner, but fluff y seed like annual rye and oats need to be spread with airflow. Small seed like radish and clover work well with fertilizer. How the resulting crop is handled prior to planting also needs to be part of the plan.
“One customer prefers annual rye grass, and that concerns us as it is a bugger to kill in the spring,” said Wampler. “It is amazing how deeply rooted it is and what it does for the soil, but you have to hit it hard with Roundup and hit it early.”