Lingering Drought Impact: How dryness is impacting cover crop plans and crop standability

The ongoing drought in the Midwest is changing how producers approach their cover crop plans.

The ongoing drought in the Midwest is changing up cover crop plans.

The current U.S. Drought Monitor shows farmers in the region facing anywhere from abnormal to exceptional drought, and have been for years now.

A specialist with Iowa State University Extension says the dry conditions make overseeding cover crops into standing corn and soybeans less successful because the seeds do not have the chance to germinate. The researchers are advising producers to drill seed after harvest, but rain will still be needed in the driest areas.

Another option could be to switch to winter small grains like cereal rye, winter wheat or winter triticale.

The drought is also impacting crop standability in the Midwest. The heat and dryness are causing corn to mature faster than normal, meaning the crops cannot use soil and other resources to finish filling ears, leading to premature ear drop.

Analysts are also seeing what they call ‘ghost plants,’ when scattered individual plants have turned brown or rotted. Disease is a problem, too.

Iowa State University says not much can be done now, but urges growers to take notes for years to come.

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