It’s cover crop season across the Northern States and I have been on the run attending field days in Nebraska and visiting dairy farmers in Wisconsin. This is a good time of the year to attend field days to see how farmers are planting their cover crops and what species they are using. Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative out of Indiana are hosting field days in the coming weeks where farmers and seed industry representatives can learn about what’s new in cover cropping.
We have been busy organizing our thoughts and weighing out seed for round 2 of trial plantings at our Richland, Iowa research farm. We will be planting hundreds of turf and forage plots next to the plots we planted in May. We are also planting about 60 different cover crop trials; some out in the open and some into rows of field corn. The Richland farm has been a lot of work but it’s a labor of love. We planted our Spring Perennial plots on May 12th. We had 9.4 inches of rain in the first month thereafter. Since the first week in June, we have only had 1.95 inches of rainfall and spells of 100* heat and high humidity. This is actually exactly what we had hoped for. Plants are being put to the test of a true droughty, hot Midwest summer. Some plants will fail but we will also find some real winners when we finally get some rain and see what survives.