November 13, 2019

Cover Crops Take Root

Cover cropsThis spring’s extreme weather and excessive rainfall made 2013 the year of the cover crop in parts of northern Iowa. MaxYield Cooperative took the lead to help growers find the right solutions for their acres.

“By late May, growers were talking about taking prevented planting acres, which is an option with crop insurance,” said Greg Sweeney, MaxYield’s seed team leader. “In some cases, prevented plant acres offered a more economic option than planting a crop.”

As May turned to June, MaxYield’s agronomists began fielding lots of questions about whether to leave wet fields idle or plant a cover crop. Cover crops help control weeds and alleviate the risk of fallow syndrome. “When a field is left unplanted, this can mess up the soil microbes,” Sweeney said. “I’ve seen fallow syndrome lead to 50-bushel-per-acre hits in corn.”

Since oats are economical and are a crop that many growers are familiar with, oats proved to be one of the most popular cover crops in MaxYield’s trade territory this year. With the help of MaxYield’s grain team, MaxYield’s agronomists and seed specialists were able to secure 8,000 bushels of oats by early June. Although these sold out quickly, MaxYield found more to meet the demand.

“We ended up seeding nearly 10,000 prevented planting acres with oats,” said Sweeney, who noted that MaxYield team members were seeding oats into early July.

Less stress means greater peace of mind

At first, MaxYield dedicated one of its fertilizer spreaders to seed the oats. As the demand for cover crops grew, MaxYield devoted three machines—and extra team members—to get the job done. “This turned out to be a more complicated process than we expected, but we did what it took to ramp up and get this accomplished,” Sweeney said.

The results were worth it, he added. “Procuring and seeding the oats allowed our clients to keep planting, replanting, or spraying where they could. This alleviated a lot of stress for our clients, and we were happy to provide a practical solution to help everyone out during a tough year.”

Did You Know?

In the spring and early summer of 2013, Iowa received the most rainfall in a record-breaking 141 years. From April to June 2013, much of the state received more than 130% of normal precipitation. MaxYield Cooperative’s and SciMax Solutions’ trade territory received anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of excess rainfall this spring.

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