Last week the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) changed the rules for when farmers who planted cover crops on prevented plant acres will be permitted to hay, graze, or chop those fields. Previously farmers were not allowed to hay or graze until after November 1, but that date has been moved up to September 1 for this year (2019).
In addition to moving the date from November 1 to September 1 for this year, RMA also determined that silage, haylage, and baleage will be treated in the same manner as haying and grazing for this year. Therefore, producers will be able to hay, graze, or cut cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage on prevented plant acres on or after September 1 and still maintain eligibility for their full 2019 prevented planting indemnity.
Note: These changes have currently just been made for 2019, and farmers still cannot harvest for grain or seed from cover crops on prevented plant acres. Please contact your crop insurance provider if you have specific questions on coverage and also to communicate your intended plans.
This is a game changer for farmers looking to get some forage value out of a cover crop planted on prevented planting acres. Earlier this spring, we posted an article on Cover Crop Options on Prevented Planting Fields and one on Forage Options with Prevented Planting Fields. With RMA’s changes to crop insurance regulations along with looking at the extended forecast of a cooler than normal summer, below are some additional thoughts regarding cover crop considerations with prevented planting fields from a forage perspective.
For farmers looking to maximize tonnage, planting corn as a cover crop and then harvesting for silage will likely give you more tonnage, especially if we do end up with a cooler than normal summer. Warm-season grasses like millets, sorghum, and sorghum-sudan require more heat than corn, and consequently if we don’t get enough heat, they won’t grow very well.
Also, if you are planning on using a cover crop for forage, pay attention to herbicide label restrictions for herbicides either applied to those fields or what you might plan to apply for crop rotations and grazing or forage. These restrictions must be followed if you plan to use the cover crop as a forage source. If a cover crop species is not specifically listed on the herbicide label it falls under the all other crops category on the label.
In addition to paying attention to herbicide labels also double check seed treatment labels if you use leftover/unplanted soybeans or corn seed as a cover crop on prevent plant acres for any forage or grazing restrictions. For instance, the ILeVo labels states that soybeans treated with ILeVo should not be grazed or used as hay. A great resource to double check pesticide labels or seed treatment labels is cdms.net.