FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, OCT. 1, 2007
|| Bill Yarborough, regional agronomist
NCDA&CS Agronomic Division
Planting cover crops is especially important this year
RALEIGH – Cover crops are always agronomically sound, but this year they are essential for two reasons. First, they are required for growers who recently harvested fodder from highly erodible land (HEL). Second, they are good insurance for livestock producers who still need forage for fall grazing or hay for harvest next spring.
According to the 1985 farm bill, cover must be maintained on HEL. This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved an exception to accommodate harvest of corn and soybeans to ease the hay shortage. Growers who took advantage of this emergency exception must plant a replacement cover crop as quickly as possible to maintain eligibility for USDA program benefits.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has issued recommendations for appropriate crops, planting dates and seeding rates. A link to this fact sheet is available on the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Web page www.ncagr.com/drought/. For additional information, growers should contact their local NRCS or Farm Service Agency office. Local Soil and Water Conservation District offices may also have some emergency agricultural cost-share funds available for cover crops on HEL.
Because hay supplies are still low and the drought persists, livestock producers should also consider planting their crop fields with a cover crop this fall.
“Hopefully, we will get enough rain in the next few months to refurbish the pastures that withered away this summer,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Using cover crops on cropped fields could greatly extend both pastures and stored forage stocks. Steps taken now have the potential to help ease the continuing feed shortage.”
Troxler urged growers to look into replanting immediately. Seed supplies are limited this year because of the Easter freeze and the drought. “Finding seed may be difficult, and growers may have to rely on varieties they are unfamiliar with,” he said. “The best approach is to start looking now.”
For advice on plant nutrient and soil fertility issues, growers can contact their NCDA&CS regional agronomist. Visit www.ncagr.com/agronomi/rahome.htm for a list of agronomists and their county assignments, or call Kent Messick at (919) 733-2655.