Farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs now have an additional two weeks to plant their winter hardy cereal rye cover crop and still qualify for assistance.

The seeding date is extended following the announcement that only 61 percent of Iowa’s soybeans and 23 percent of corn were harvested as of Sunday, Oct. 22, both behind the five-year average. Extending the deadline an additional two weeks will allow additional farmers to get a cereal rye cover crop planted, benefitting water quality.

Late seeded cereal rye provided adequate spring growth for erosion control in the past when allowed to grow to at least eight inches tall before termination, according to officials at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The revised cover crop seeding dates for cereal rye are:

  • Zone 1 (Northern Iowa) Nov. 4 – 18
  • Zone 2 (Central Iowa) Nov. 11 – 25
  • Zone 3 (Southern Iowa) Nov. 19 – Dec. 3

(See map above of cover crop zones.

Guidance from Iowa State University confirmed cover crops planted within these dates still have the potential to provide a substantial reduction in nutrient losses and soil erosion.

 The following applies to cover crops planted during the extension period:

  • Seed cereal rye as soon as possible after harvest of the principal crop.
  • The cover crop will be no-till drilled into crop residue.
  • Allow the cover crop to grow until at least 8 inches before spring termination.
  • It is recommended the seeding rate of cereal rye be increased to 75 pounds Pure Live Seed (PLS) per acre to adjust for reduced tillering.
  • The extension does not apply to all federal programs. Contact your county NRCS office if you have questions.

 Farmers approved for cost-share assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops should contact their county NRCS office.