Are you covered on cover crops?
Wampler said he and his crew have learned the hard way how meticulous equipment cleanout has to be. When some rye showed up in wheat fields spread by his crews, it was noticeable, though not the concern it would have been in seed wheat.
“We were probably trying to move too fast and didn’t pay enough attention,” he recalled.
Learning to handle the added pressure of one more service demanded in the fall is the price of added business. Having that early conversation with the grower over what goes where reduces that pressure. However, there will still be the grower who calls the night before he wants seed spread, noted Bower.
“You have to be flexible,” she said. “It has added to the fall workload, but most of our people say it has been a positive change. We need to work through what species or mix is desired and how we need to do it. If we can use fertilizer as a carrier that lets us put on more fertility. The challenge is getting the seed from suppliers when you need it.”
Cover Crop Solutions’ Bristol Mix is a mixture of tillage radish and RootMax annual ryegrass.
BE READY FOR A LEARNING CURVE
“It all goes back to asking the right questions,” suggested Wohltman. “In recent years, demand has pushed ahead of supply in part because we haven’t had the conversation early enough. Retailers and their customers need to plan ahead with their wholesaler, otherwise we’ll run into problems with supply and quality. Ultimately, we need to provide the seed producer with the right information so they know how many acres to plant.”
Skyrocketing demand combined with a sharp learning curve has created problems with seed origin, cleanliness and even proper labeling. There is a big difference between cereal rye and annual rye, as some have learned the hard way.
Wohltman argued that quality and service expectations for cover crop seed suppliers should be no different than what a retailer expects from a corn or soybean seed supplier.
“They should have guys in the field with you, willing to train, but also to make farm calls with confidence about what a particular cover crop species will do and what it won’t,” he said. “There is risk in bringing in seed and not knowing how much you will move, so you need inventory protection at some level. Your supplier should provide grower training, marketing support and solution-based selling. As a wholesaler, our job isn’t done until the retailer has sold his seed to his customer.”
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