Rick Pellet of Atlantic, IA believes that getting cover crops in the ground during the fall—no matter what time—is critical. And while he’ll be drilling his cover crops this this fall, Rick chimed in with some tips for aerially seeding cover crops from past years’ experience.
Weigh the risk: Rick says, “The years I get it right, I get good growth, but often my flown-on cover crop stand is spotty.” He advises to think about your goals, then decide if flying on cover crops is the best option for you. “For the people with livestock, the opportunity for growth might be worth the spottiness,” Rick says. He also notes that farmers in Illinois with greater precipitation and earlier maturing varieties might have better luck.
Look for rain: “It’s best to have at least a half-inch of rain within a couple weeks after flying the seed on, and preferable to have some rain before seeding,” Rick says. “A few years ago, Sarah [Carlson] sent us an email telling us to look for hurricanes in the Gulf [of Mexico] because we’ll get rain in the Midwest shortly after.”
The graphs below show the historical probability of over one inch of rain within 24 hours during the defined windows. (Data includes precipitation records from the last 30 years and was provided by from ISU’s Mesonet.)