General Establishment & Management Guidelines for Cover Crops
- Follow recommended planting times for cool season annual forages for the specific geographic region.
- Lime the soil to a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 and follow soil test recommendations for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer needs. If practical, apply needed lime 3-4 months or more ahead of seeding the cover crop.
- Drill seed into a well-prepared, firm seedbed or use a no-till drill to seed fields included in a limited tillage production system. Special attention should be given to planting seed at the recommended depth. Planting too shallow or too deep can lead to a poor cover crop stand.
- If weeds become an issue requiring the use of a herbicide, carefully read and follow herbicide label guidelines for crop tolerance and crop rotation restrictions.
- If the cover crop is to be used for forage, grazing can begin when growth reaches 6-8 inches in height and roots are well anchored. Remove livestock when 3-4 inches of forage growth remains. Do not graze when fields are wet and soggy as it can result in excessive field compaction and plant damage.