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Changes to the 2017-2018 Cover Crop Program-Early Planting Incentives & More

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

By Sarah Everhart

Tractor driving down a road with a trail of dust (Photo Credit Edwin Remsberg).

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Although the deadline to sign up for Maryland’s Cover Crop Program has passed, growers must now decide what to plant and when. To maximum their involvement in the Cover Crop Program, growers need to fully understand the changes to the Program. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has sent growers information on the changes but in case you missed it, the following is a quick summary.

The types of crops which may be planted include: cereal grains (wheat/spelt, rye, barley, triticale, spring oats, ryegrass and canola/rape (brassica), forage radish and legumes (crimson clover, Austrian winter peas and hairy vetch) which must be planted with a cereal grain as part of a mix.

To create diversity, eligible cover crop species may be mixed at a rate of 50 percent of the recommended seeding rate for cereal grains (except spring oats) and 50 percent of the recommended seeding rate for radish or legumes. A new three species mix (small grains, legumes, forage radish) is now eligible for payment. This mix must contain a minimum of 50 percent cereal grains, 25 percent forage radish, and 25 percent legumes. The species with the earliest planting date determines the planting deadline.

While cereal grains should be planted by November 5, 2017, some species have earlier deadlines. Growers should consult their local soil conservation district office for a list of planting deadlines by species. Mixes containing legumes or forage radish must be planted by October 1, 2017 and the aerial planting deadline is October 7, 2017.

Early planting incentives are available if growers are able to plant by October 1 ($10.00-$20.00/acre) or by October 15, 2017 ($5.00-$10.00/acre) subject to a maximum payment per acre of $75.00.

Other changes to this year’s program: payment for harvested cover crops is not available this year and an incentive payment of $10/acre if rye is planted as the cover crop (no mixes).

All cover crops must be planted by November 5, 2017 and certified with the soil conservation district by November 13, 2017 to qualify for payment.

To read more about the Cover Crop Program, visit MDA’s website.

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