Last Call for EQIP Applications

Last Call for EQIP Applications
As many already know, EQIP application cut-off dates are quickly approaching for many states across the Corn Belt (and have already passed for several states in the northern and eastern regions). Submissions are accepted on a continuous basis – however, the cut-off dates establish parameters for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications. General EQIP first round cut-off dates are included here.

 

 

Find more information on EQIP here: http://bit.ly/2gofEG9

2017 SARE/CTIC Cover Crop Survey Released
The latest SARE survey on cover crop adoption and usage has recently been completed. Many new questions were asked of participants, both users and non-users of cover crops. The content is put together very well and easy to follow. See the survey here: http://bit.ly/2hcY5KZ

 

Considerations when Formulating Cover Crop Mixes

La Crosse Seed continues to witness an evolution in the cover crop industry, now that more growers are comfortable using cover crops. This time of year, we receive requests for many cover crop combinations.

While we encourage the use of our Soil First™ and Cover Crop Solutions™ branded mixes (these blends perform well across a wide range of environments) we understand the need for flexibility – growers have experience with different mixes and that confidence is important as acres grow across the country. In addition, NRCS & SWCD agencies continue promoting their own unique mixes. It makes sense to revisit basic principles to consider when formulating a custom cover crop mix:

  1. Goal: A well-defined goal may eliminate many unnecessary species that will alter the overall formulation. Concentrate on desired benefit/s and choose only those species that generate that service.
  2. Seed Size & Seeding Depth: Varying seed sizes alter how different species physically mix together and directly impacts seeding depth. Many species can tolerate some seed depth variability, but it’s easy to understand why some cover crop stands end up looking short a crop or two – usually due to seeds being buried too deep.
  3. Seeding Method: Much like factor #2, how seed is planted can greatly affect the final stand. Many drills and seeders offer flexibility for different seed sizes, but aerial, over-the-top, and broadcast applications don’t offer that luxury. If one species in a mix can’t tolerate less than ideal soil environments (where seed-to-soil contact is maximized), there’s a strong chance those will either not appear or will germinate much later than those that do.
  4. Time of Planting: We preach planting cover crops as early as possible in late summer or early fall – every growing degree day (GDD) matters. Don’t forget, it’s possible earlier plantings will ultimately look different than expectations when the formulation was first put together. For example, mixes containing brassicas should have a lighter ratio of those species when planted earlier in the seeding window vs. planting late. Brassicas respond to heat better than many other cool season crops, so decrease the ratio of these when the season allows for more growth. Increase those percentages late however, especially if small grains aren’t included that often help harbor smaller brassicas and legumes as they establish.
  5. Competition: Not all cover crops grow at the same speed or rate. For example, many brassicas grow faster than cool season legumes, and some clovers take much longer to establish than other legumes. It’s typical to see spring oats germinate in about half the time of cereal rye or winter wheat.
  6. Herbicide Interactions: The more complex the mix, the more at risk that combination could be for poor establishment due to herbicide carryover. Depending on the cash crop cycle and coinciding pesticide applications, it’s common to see germination issues or delays alter the final cover crop stand.

There may be some debate across the industry on the overall value of cover crop mixes vs. straight species plantings. Research shows many services from cover crops are equally achieved when planting a monoculture vs. a blend of many species. However,diversity is good for many things, including soil. It’s been proven that seeding multiple species create a healthier soil environment, where microbial advancements occur faster and beneficial organisms thrive. We suggest tempering the complexity of these mixes to a level where management and practical agronomy isn’t compromised.

Need help deciding which mix to plant? Check out our Soil First Cover Crop Mix Decision Tree here: http://bit.ly/2xF0Uvh

Timing for Aerial and “Over-the-Top” Cover Crop Applications

This time of year we begin advising on proper seeding times when using aerial equipment. When aerial seeding, consider the ideal planting window for the cover crop being planted. For example, brassicas and most non-overwintering legumes typically need 4-6 (and preferably 8-10) weeks of growth prior to winter termination to reach their full potential.

Map shows average first 28⁰ date across the country. Continued temps in the 20’s will stop many cover crops from continued growth. See pg. 17 of our Management Guide for USDA Hardiness Zones of different cover crop options.

This planting period must be taken into account to coincide with the proper maturity stage of the crop in the field. Moisture or irrigation is critical when surface seeding to make up for lack of seed-to-soil contact. When time could be a hurdle, aerial and “over-the-top” seedings offer a worthy alternative. Assuming seeding intervals match, the ideal time to aerial seed into cash crops are:

  • Corn: Formation of black layer, or when at least 50% of sunlight reaches soil surface. This can be adjusted earlier if needed, as we’ve seen more timing flexibility into corn than soybeans. Sunlight is imperative, but moisture is even more important as the calendar turns to late Aug. and Sept.
  • Soybeans: Between leaf senescence and 5% leaf drop, but that depends to some degree on row width and soybean architecture. Delaying applications into soybeans decreases seed-to-soil contact and increases risk of poor moisture retention needed for maximizing germination. Getting cover crop seed below the leaves that drop is crucial for success!
  • Sunflowers: Back of the seed head turns yellow

When crop stage and seeding calendar do not align, always err on the side of earlier applications, especially when a moisture event is forecasted or irrigation can be planned. It’s better to have the cover crop seed in the field to begin the germination process vs. planting later, where seed may have to compete with excess cash crop residue from harvest.

Other Considerations:

  • For other cash crops, concentrate on sunlight infiltration to the soil surface. Sunlight and moisture are the limiting factors for bare surface applications.
  • Seed size and density is important as well. Larger seeded cover crops like peas present more challenges getting proper seed-to-soil contact.

Residue and overall irregularity of the soil surface also has an effect. We’ve noticed that some level of residue on the soil and “roughness” of the soil surface significantly increases the ability of cover crop seed to “catch”. The quicker we get adequate seed placement, the greater our chances of success.

Hypoxia Zone the Biggest Ever?  In case you missed it, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists determined this years’ Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the largest ever, reported last week. Depending on media source, the context of these articles are drastically different. Google “hypoxia gulf of mexico” or see the stories below:

While it’s unclear what potential short term impact this news may have, it reinforces the need for our agricultural industry to accelerate the adoption of nutrient management practices. Cover crops are a key tool in the toolbox for doing so.

La Crosse Seed Continues Focus on Soil and Water Conservation

LA CROSSE, WI (August 9, 2017) – La Crosse Seed is doing its part to lead communication to ag retailers across the country on the importance of soil and water conservation through the use of quality seed and sound agronomics. Dedication to delivering its message to ag professionals nationwide has La Crosse Seed in the midst of many initiatives and sustainability efforts, both public and private. A few of these include:

  • Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) Business Council Executive Team
  • American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) Cover Crop Working Group Chair
  • Soil Health Partnership field support
  • ADM / Unilever Sustainable Soy Continuous Improvement Program
  • Numerous Regional Conservation Partnership Program Sponsorships (i.e., Saginaw Bay Watershed, Middle Cedar Partnership Project, Michigan State University Extension’s Aerial Application of Cover Crops Study, and more)

The investment that goes along with these efforts is worth it. For instance, the company’s involvement with ASTA has helped it gain further credibility and support from partners within the ag community, and provides a seat at the table to discuss important seed industry issues, both domestic and abroad.

“From cover crops and pollinators to turf and forage, the seed industry has worlds of opportunity, but still faces challenges,” said Scott Wohltman, cover crop lead for La Crosse Seed. “Our work with ASTA gives our customers confidence they’re connected with a leader who shares their commitment to producing better crops for a better quality of life.”

As an ASTA member, La Crosse Seed understands the importance of, and advocates for, clean, quality seed. With industry questions arising regarding quality and cleanliness, the company recently launched a communication initiative to educate customers on its Secure Sourced & Supplied Seed Process, which outlines the deliberate practices and checkpoints it verifies to ensure consistently high seed quality standards.

Recent momentum in conservation seed has also led to an expanding footprint. Prior to 2012, La Crosse Seed focused in the upper Midwest, with sales and distribution dedicated primarily to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. After bringing on experienced seedsmen from surrounding states about five years ago, the company now has distribution into over 30 states from as far West as Montana to the Eastern seaboard. Recent additions include sales staff covering the Mid-South as well as a business development lead focusing on New England and the Mid-Atlantic.

“We’ve worked hard to become a leader in the small seed industry with a focus on promoting the role our seeds play in sustainability applications, and we’re excited to continue that momentum,” said Dan Foor, La Crosse Seed CEO.

La Crosse Seed believes in delivering sound, practical recommendations to its dealers. By focusing on seed that some ag professionals may not be as familiar with, the company takes pride in its ability to answer questions ranging from what to plant and how to plant it, to cost share inquiries and marketing support.

“As interest in small seed expands, it’s important that we’re ready to help in any way we can,” said Wohltman.

The company is focused on delivering not only its service promise, but also quality products through its Soil First® and Cover Crop Solutions® cover crop seed brands, and its Natives First® native grass and wildflower seed brand. Over the last few years it has brought new brands and products to the market, including:

  • LINK™ Cover Crop Inoculant
  • Cover Crop Solutions® (brand ownership assumed in 2016)
  • Natives First® Native Grasses and Wildflowers
  • ColdSnap™ Annual Ryegrass

In addition to new conservation brands, La Crosse Seed has also introduced new products under its Forage First® forage portfolio, including:

  • Forage First® Alfalfas (conventional, leafhopper and Roundup Ready® varieties)
  • Forage First® FF 9615 Red Clover
  • Summer Select™ Summer Annuals
  • CrosseCoat™ Premium Seed Coating Platform

As the company continues to grow, it will continue to expand its footprint along with new product offerings. “It is an exciting time for our industry and the organization,” said Foor.

The Path to Clean, Quality Seed

The small seed industry continues to field frequent questions regarding seed quality and cleanliness. The current momentum behind cover crops has opened doors for new outlets and non-conventional channels for seed to find its way to growers. While many of these new avenues involve small grains, other species aren’t clear of potential seed quality concerns.

Besides the adage “Buyer Beware”, we want to share a couple things we are doing to instill confidence in our customers across the country:

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are members of ASTA (American Seed Trade Association) and our own Scott Wohltman chairs the Cover Crop Working Group. ASTA works diligently to not only represent the seed industry, but also communicates to the ag community, and the general public, the safeguards in place within the agricultural seed supply chain while advocating for U.S. growers in today’s global market.

Look for more communication on the work of ASTA members’ further efforts to certify or confirm seed distributors who meet the rising demands of increasing safety measures against weeds. The rise of palmer amaranth and other problematic weed species has highlighted the differences between good and bad in the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve also developed material to underscore the practices and checkpoints La Crosse Seed verifies to make 100% certain the bag and tag delivered to our customer’s door meets the quality standards both you and we require.

Click to view our infographic and short video explaining our Secure Sourced & Supplied Seed Process. You can also click the button below or click here for more information.
Our Secure Sourced & Supplied Seed Process

 

 

La Crosse Seed Cover Crop Field Day

The Economics of Cover Crops

La Crosse Seed Cover Crop Field Day 10 am EST

September 7, 2017

Rain Date:  September 8, 2017

Walton, IN

 

SWCS 72nd International Annual Conference

July 30-August  2

Monona Terrace Convention Center

Madison, WI

 

 

Webinar Recap: Herbicide Rotational Restrictions with Cover Crops

We recently had the opportunity to lead a webinar with No-Till Farmer magazine on Herbicide Rotational Restrictions with Cover Crops. As a sponsor of the magazine, we’ve earned the chance to lead webinars the last couple years. Although we submitted several important topics to highlight in an industry presentation, the No-Till folks thought the idea of digging in more on herbicide interactions was a venture they couldn’t pass up.

The hour presentation gave our Eastern Cover Crop Lead, Scott Wohltman, time to talk about herbicides that typically cause more issues with planting cover crops. It also presented an opportunity to hit on how the different herbicide classes normally give us in the industry a “heads up” on likely issues following specific pesticide applications.

Replay Webinar Now
To view the webinar, click the button above or visit http://bit.ly/2sY1sdb

Over the years, we’ve learned a ton from industry experts like Mike Plumer, Dan Towery and numerous others from extension and land grant universities. Scott was able to reference many of those individuals during the webinar. Their work on top of all the feedback we hear from our customers and partners across the Midwest gave us the foundation for sharing the information our team uses in the field.

If you have questions, comments, concerns or disagreements with anything presented, please let us know by emailing info@laxseed.com. We would love to hear your feedback – the more we learn the better.

 

Concerns About Residual Herbicide?
One method to address this is to do a bioassay. If you are unclear whether or not a cover crop will germinate, this is a great way to test establishment. We now have Herbicide Carryover Bioassay Kits available for Soil First customers. To request kits, contact us.

Management Tips to Combat Slugs

Management Tips to Combat Slugs
We are hearing more reports of slug damage from cereal rye fields across the Midwest. We do highlight some management considerations in our newly released Soil First™ Management Guide (Edition 6) on pg. 29. To view that information click here 
Need Access to Cover Crop Management Info in the Field?
We encourage you to save and reference our new management guide here
 

Besides the points on pg. 29, we’d like to elaborate as we continue to hear what’s helping fight slugs. Here are things to think about, which often go against the practical, traditional cropping systems we see across the Corn Belt:

  • Cover crops give slugs an alternate food source vs. attacking the growing cash crop. This works when the cover crop is allowed to mature to the point of seed production. While this isn’t for everyone, we’ve witnessed it this past spring. Standing green cover attracts beneficial insects (ground beetles, etc.) which feed on slugs.
  • Enhance your rotation. Varying your crop rotation often disrupts life cycles and perennial timing issues we see with many pests. The more varied the cropping cycle, the less pests (like slugs) can adapt.
  • Lastly, consider these options that many growers continue to use with some level of success:
    • Metaldehyde (Deadline and others). About 5 lbs./acre broadcast. Slugs eat the pellets and die from dehydration. Industry research shows this product doesn’t have any harmful effects on many of slugs’ natural predators.
    • Nitrogen. Applying liquid N at night (when slugs are most active) has worked in many areas. Using 28% or 32% mixed with water for a couple nights (maybe a third) in a row should be the plan. N basically melts the slugs.

Prevent Plant? Maintain Soil Health with These Useful Tips

When fields are open during late spring/summer, whether part of a planned system or created by unfortunate weather, it’s critical to keep soils covered, taking advantage of the longer seeding window and maintaining soil health benefits.

Keep these items in mind if prevent plant is a possibility within your operation:

1. DO SOMETHING. Leaving ground fallow greatly increases risk of erosion and improves the likelihood of leaching nitrates, sulfates and other nutrients that could be used by the following year’s crop. Bare ground also encourages risk of “Fallow Syndrome” the following year. Fallow Syndrome occurs when there’s no plant growth in an area for an extended period. Populations of “good fungi”, called active mycorrhizae, are reduced because they need actively growing roots to survive. These fungi depend on host plants to complete their life cycle. Adding a grass (ryegrass, oats, etc.) or legume such as peas or hairy vetch are extremely beneficial and will better support the good fungi in the soil.

2. DETERMINE YOUR GOALS. There are many “cover crop” options available to use. The crop rotation goals of the producer should help steer the decision. Normally, crop harvest can often limit the time we have available to plant a cover crop, but because our planting window is now early, just about everything can be considered. Again, this should depend on what the producer wants to accomplish with the cover crop planting.

3. UNDERSTAND THE GUIDELINES. If taking the full prevented plant option, haying or grazing is not allowed until after Nov. 1 (or other dates in the Midwest, depending on state or region). Check with your state or county FSA office for further info on grazing restrictions with this program.

4. THINK ABOUT HERBICIDE RESTRICTIONS. Consider herbicides already applied on acres not yet planted. In many cases, cover crops and other non-traditional crops will not be listed on the herbicide label. Many universities are doing more work on this topic to determine what options farmers have in the case of “prevent plant” or other cropping systems that offer quick seeding windows. If a cover crop is being planted for erosion control and won’t be harvested, the grower then assumes the risk if that cover crop doesn’t appear on the herbicide label. However, if that cover crop will be harvested as forage, either mechanically or by livestock, then rotational restrictions on the label must be followed. For more information on herbicide rotational restrictions, refer to FAQ #5 in the Soil First® Management Guide.

5. USE MIXES. Cover crop mixes allow for diversity and opportunity to spread out risk. Mixes also allow for reduced weather risks, help break pest cycles and prevent erosion that some monoculture species are vulnerable to. Added benefits include nitrogen fixing and improved soil health as well.

TO ACCESS OUR PREVENT PLANT INFO SHEET, VISIT: http://bit.ly/2rTy6uO

As always, double check your plans with your crop insurance agent to ensure compliance. For late planting dates and other information for your state, see below:
Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin: http://bit.ly/2s3PfAz
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio: http://bit.ly/2sgEtZN
Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado: http://bit.ly/2slX0Vp
Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming: http://bit.ly/2s3S7Nu

For more info on insurance programs, including early and final planting dates by county and state, visit: http://bit.ly/2nrxecb