Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Farmers like Noah Wendt (left) are continuing to frost seed a cereal rye cover crop well into the winter this year. Noah farms corn, soy and small grains with Caleb Akin (right) near Cambridge. While Noah and Caleb prefer to drill their cover crop after harvest, he remarks that the weather doesn’t always cooperate. “We can frost seed the fields that we didn’t get drilled,” Noah says.

Look for the right weather window: Noah advises to aim to frost seed when the upper 2-3 inches of the ground are frozen, and right before the weather looks like it will warm up. “When the soil thaws out and freezes, again, the seed gets sucked into the ground.” This year Noah will frost seed into late January.

Adjust your seeding rate: Since the cereal rye won’t tiller, Noah advises bumping the seeding rate up to 110-120 lb (about 2 bu)/ac. He estimates that last year two-thirds of the frost-seeded rye germinated in mid-March.

Reap the benefits: Noah says, “We frost seeded cereal rye on fall disked ground last January and it worked great. Good stand in the spring, and it grew 18-24 inches tall. As I do more research on this, it seems like the benefit of the cover crop is having a living root in the soil for organic matter accumulation and microbial activity. Frost seeding cover crops is great for that.”
IN THE FIELD
Crop insurance premium discount deadline is Jan. 15!
Iowa farmers: IDALS is offering a $5 per acre discount on crop insurance for farmers who plant cover crops this fall. The cover crop acres cannot be enrolled in other state or federal cover crop cost share programs, but can be enrolled in private cost share programs, such as the PFI-administered programs. Don’t miss out on this $5 per acre discount! Learn more and apply here by January 15.

Illinois farmers: Applications are due to IDOA by January 15, and must be fully completed for eligibility. Application assistance is available through your local Soil and Water Conservation District office or the IDOA Bureau of Land and Water Resources at (217) 782-6297.
COVER CROP POLL
What's the status of the fields you cover cropped this fall?
Still seeding cover crops
Seeded but not germinated
Germinated and 0-3 inches tall
Germinated and 3+ inches tall
Germinated, grown and winter killed
Previous poll results:
How do you prioritize timely seeding of cover crops?
  • I hire a custom applicator to drill - 11.1%
  • I work it into my harvest routine - 30.6%
  • I hire an applicator to fly on seed - 19.4%
  • I couple seeding with another pass (VT, fall fertilizer or combine) - 33.3%
  • I get around to seeding as much as I can when I’m able to - 5.6%
PROGRAM UPDATES
There are no program updates at this time.
UPCOMING EVENTS
We're just a week away from our annual conference on Jan. 18-19.  Pre-register by midnight TODAY, January 9 to receive a discounted rate. Walk-in registrations are welcome the day of. Below, we have compiled some cover crop-focused sessions:
More Cover Crop Events
Hosted by: Practical Farmers of Iowa
January 16-18 | Ames, Iowa

Cover Crop/Strip-Till Roundtable Breakfast
Hosted by: Hamilton County SWCD
RSVP: jennifer.rank@ia.nacdnet.net OR (515) 832-2916
February 5 | 7:30 a.m. | 600 Main Street | Stanhope, IA

Hosted by: John Wood Community College
February 7 | Quincy, IL
 
Hosted by: Midwest Cover Crop Council
February 11-12 | Kansas City, MO
Host a cover crop meet-up!
Want to host a casual gathering to talk cover crops? Sarah Carlson will bring the pizza and drinks. You bring the neighbors to talk cover crops. Contact Sarah if interested sarah@practicalfarmers.org.
Are you planning or hosting a cover crop field day? Send the details to rebecca@practicalfarmers.org, and we’ll include it in our next newsletter!
CONTACT OUR COVER CROPS TEAM
Alisha Bower
Strategic Initiatives Manager
(515) 232-5661
Sarah Carlson
Strategic Initiatives Director
(515) 232-5661
Chris Wilbeck
Independent Contractor
(515) 232-5661
Rebecca Clay
Strategic Initiatives Assistant
(515) 232-5661