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:

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:


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:

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.

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



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

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 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.


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:
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio:
Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado:
Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming:

For more info on insurance programs, including early and final planting dates by county and state, visit:

Spring Cover Crop Reminders

Cover crops typically mean additional residue in spring, which brings about additional management considerations, detailed below.

Cover crops and green manure can harbor insects, diseases and nematodes harmful to subsequent cash crops. Armyworms, cutworms and other pests present additional management considerations after grass cover crops (i.e., annual ryegrass), cereal grains and even legumes (crimson clover, hairy vetch) due in large part to soil surface residue.

Armyworms can lay eggs in grassy cover crop fields, and young caterpillars attack corn mid-spring through early summer. Armyworms also move into corn from surrounding wheat fields, causing damage primarily along field edges.

There are labeled armyworm insecticides available and many growers include this with burndown application, however, armyworm populations may not yet be sufficient to warrant the cost.

Instead, scout fields often after corn planting. While it may be difficult to find armyworms, inspecting their damage is easier. Refer to local threshold recommendations to determine if and when to apply insecticide (foliar applications have proven successful).

Slugs & Voles
Slugs and voles may increase with introduction of cover crops and no-till. Many growing practices that leave surface residue can lead to enhanced habitat for these pests. For growers practicing no-till or reduced tillage, have solutions that don’t result in added deep tillage (minimal tillage may be necessary in some situations).

Below are steps to help cover croppers minimize occurrence of slugs and voles, especially in fields where it’s been a problem previously:

  • Plant cash crop early. Faster establishment = less feeding from slugs as crop will be too large to feed.
  • Keep roadsides & ditches/waterways mowed. This will decrease vole protection, especially when breeding is heavy and numbers are growing.
  • Control or terminate cover crops 3-4 weeks before planting to decrease residue.
  • Ensure seed slot is closed and firm. This will reduce direct feeding on the seed (may require deeper seed placement than usual).

Early cover crop termination and residue management at planting can reduce risk of pest damage. Insecticide may be required if planting into standing cover or within 3-4 weeks of termination. However, remember that surface residue creates a more diverse soil ecosystem versus conventional tillage systems and often attracts beneficial insects too. For nematodes and diseases, select products to meet your goals, plan early and manage accordingly.

How much and when nitrogen (N) will be available after grass cover crops is a common question with no easy answer. The rate and extent of N release from decomposing grass cover crops depend on many factors, including plant stage at termination, carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio and weather.

Plants in the vegetative stage have higher N concentration than those in the reproductive stage and decompose faster. The C:N ratio determines timing of N release from these residues. High C:N cover crop residues (>25:1) will first use and deplete N from soil or recent fertilizer N additions. Only after some time will N begin to release back to the soil.

For grass cover crops, terminate in the vegetative stage if the following cash crop is a grass, such as corn. If the cover crop reaches the reproductive phase before termination, more N will be used after termination and an additional starter N fertilizer application will be needed. This is crucial for the health of newly seeded cash crops.

Not all N scavenged by the cover crop will be available the next season, so fertilizer N rate should not be reduced by the amount of N kept from leaching (some scavenged N goes toward building soil organic matter). Grass cover crops, while in the vegetative stage, have C:N ratios around 10:1-15:1 and release N rapidly after termination. Roughly 50% of N in the above-ground biomass will be available over a window of 1-2 months, depending on weather.

Pesticides used now on cash crops can still impact cover crop establishment later – especially if cover crops are seeded prior to harvest. When interseeding cover crops it’s important to follow pesticide guidelines; those herbicides can affect cover crop germination, and established cover crops within the cash crop will alter the chemical options one can use. The industry continues to use information from several universities, listed below. We strongly encourage keeping these close:

University of Wisconsin:
Purdue University:
Penn State University:
Iowa State University:
University of Nebraska:
If using seeding equipment from your NRCS or SWCD office, consider reserving soon. It’s evident that machinery rental programs are working in many areas. However, most offices will tell you that the earlier they’re made aware of equipment needs, the easier it is for everyone coordinating these efforts come late summer.

Cover Crop Termination Considerations

Besides mode of action, there are a few factors to consider when selecting the correct burndown herbicide – like resistance and potential carryover.  Below are some factors with key burndown herbicides to keep in mind as the timing window for applications this spring is right around the corner.

  • Weather is probably the biggest consideration. Almost all herbicides work best when plants are actively growing (especially herbicides that are translocated). Cool and cloudy conditions often delay herbicide activity, and dry weather can increase carryover potential.
  • Glyphosate (Group 9) is a common burndown option. Glyphosate kills plants by barring the synthesis of amino acids (which can take up to a couple weeks to completely kill the plant). This chemistry needs to get to the growing point of the plant to be active. Thus, anything that prevents glyphosate from translocating within the plant will reduce its effectiveness:
    • Cold and cloudy weather
    • Premixes with glyphosate that kill plants quickly (like paraquat, for example)
  • Paraquat (Group 22) is another possibility. Paraquat terminates plants by triggering free radicals in the plant to build up and break up plant membranes. This happens quickly, usually within a couple days. Because paraquat is a contact killer, good coverage is needed to get control. Broadleaf control is more assured than with grasses, where a second application may be needed due to regrowth. Paraquat has zero soil activity, so carryover concerns aren’t a problem.
  • Glufosinate (Group 10) kills plants by disrupting ammonia recycling – which causes photosynthesis and other processes in the growing plant to stop. Like glyphosate, control of plants using glufosinate is greatly affected by weather – plants need to be actively growing to achieve adequate results. Good coverage is needed as this is a contact herbicide as well.
  • Group 4 herbicides (Auxenics) have a place in cover crop burndown applications. 2,4-D, dicamba, and clopyralid all fall into this category of herbicides that work primarily on legumes and other broadleaves. Auxenic herbicides kill plants by disrupting metabolic processes within the plant, usually taking at least a week for plants to die. Resistance to Auxenics in waterhemp and other weeds have occurred – and we know that several mustard species aren’t easily controlled with these products. We typically don’t see any carryover issues with Auxenics, although 2,4-D can cause some problems, depending on organic matter and soil pH.
  • Group 5 herbicides (Triazine family, metribuzin, others) work for burndown applications by stopping the photosynthesis process in the plant. These herbicides translocate differently than glyphosate, which means post applications are not as effective. Dry weather can reduce their effectiveness too. Several weeds have selected resistance to Triazine herbicides (like pigweeds, lambsquarters, velvetleaf, etc.). Because of their residual activity, consideration for the following cash crop (and cover crop) is important.
  • PPO Inhibitors (Group 14) like Sharpen and Reflex stop biosynthesis of chlorophyll and other pigments in the plant. PPOs typically work better on broadleaves than grasses, and affected plants usually die within a week. Resistance to PPOs has been witnessed across the country (waterhemp and palmer amaranth), and carryover concerns are valid with PPOs, especially on fall cover crops.
  • ACCase Inhibitors (Group 1) herbicides are used on grasses in post applications, and typically take about 2 weeks for plants to completely die. Examples of these herbicides are sethoxydim, clethodim and quizalofop. Like other herbicide families, ACCase inhibitors work best on actively growing plants. In dry conditions, expect these herbicides to have a reduced effect. Using Group 1’s alongside 2,4-D and other Auxenic herbicides have caused reduced efficacy. Some resistance has been seen in annual ryegrass to ACCase products so caution must be taken.
  • Many other options exist to control cover crops in the spring. Use caution and plan ahead for your best chance at success.

This chart is derived from the University of Wisconsin and Penn State University, with a few additional options our group has added based on experience in the field. If questions, contact us at 800.356.7333 or We have additional resources to help you make the best decisions this spring.

References: Shaner, University of Colorado; Hartzler, Iowa State University; Johnson, Purdue University;  Davis, University of Wisconsin; Curran, Penn State University.

The Importance of Clean, Weed-Free Seed

The Importance of Clean, Weed-Free Seed
We’ve been following reports lately related to noxious, problematic weeds like Palmer Amthe-dirt-9132aranth showing up in cover crops. Be sure to use clean, quality seed for cover crop plantings and keep these things in mind:

  • Use tested, noxious weed-free seed. A tag can tell you a lot. Look for certified noxious and problematic weed-free seed to optimize success and lower risk. Request seed test results to be sure.
  • Growing location matters. Make sure your seed is grown in areas with less humidity.
  • Use a supplier of seed, not grain. Professional seed suppliers procure seed from agronomically sound producers trusted to bring quality, weed- and disease-free seed into the market.

To meet the demand for quality assured, ultra clean seed, we offer Guardian™ Fall Rye. This brand is carefully selected and screened to ensure the cleanest and purest cereal rye for cover cropping, higher than industry standards.