September is not too late to plant cover crops

Cover crops, long touted as one fo the most versatile tools a farmer can use in his cropping systems, are often less expensive than other forms of land maintenance and preservation. And it's not too late to plant crops before autumn takes hold.

By

Lifestyle

September 21, 2021 - 9:13 AM

Cover crops can provide weed suppression, build soil health, offer fall and spring grazing options, or offer a productive hay/silage crop to be sold or utilized on the farm. Photo by K-State Research and Extension

It is not too late to get some cover crops on wheat stubble or any fallow ground from flooded or failed crops this summer. Cover crops are one of the most versatile tools a farmer can use in his cropping systems. Depending on a farm’s goals, adding cover crops can provide weed suppression, build soil health, offer fall and spring grazing options, or offer a productive hay/silage crop to be sold or utilized on the farm. How could planting a cover crop now help meet your farm’s goals? 

Wheat stubble and fallow ground provide the perfect opportunity for weeds to thrive. While using herbicides is an option, and sometimes a necessary option, it can be hard to pencil in another round of herbicide costs in an already tough year. Herbicide applications on wheat stubble or bare fields can cost anywhere from $7 per acre all the way up to $20 per acre and still not achieve perfect results.

While most herbicide decisions have been made, and sprayers have made their passes, there are still opportunities for weeds to persist late in the summer, and early in the spring. Mustard, marestail, and downy brome are common weeds that will emerge in the late summer. Cover crops provide a cost-effective solution to give competition for those weeds that have escaped chemical control. While a cover crop may not kill already established weeds in a field, it will certainly prevent emergence of new weeds by blocking sunlight from hitting the soil and leaves of emerging weeds. 

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