Spring cover crop check list

What should a farmer consider doing in the spring if they have cover crops in their rotation?

Cover crop use has been increasing in popularity for the past several years. Studies were done by Michigan State University and other research institutions have proven their importance for both the soil and cash crops. While cover crops are not usually managed for monetary profit they still need to be managed.

There are some basic management practices that farmers should do in the spring if they planted cover crops in the fall that overwintered.

  • Monitor fields for cover crop growth and pests
  • Preferably terminate cover crops at least two weeks prior to cash crop if using herbicide but be able to modify termination time depending on precipitation and temperature both during the day and night
  • Scout fields after termination to ensure cover crop has been effectively terminated

Farmers who plan on using a specific cover or cover crop mix after their cash crop need to also consider their herbicide program for the spring and summer. Refer to the herbicide label for planting restrictions. For more information on using cover crops visit the Michigan State University Extension Cover Crop website at or the Midwest Cover Crop Council website. You may also contact Michigan State University Extension Cover Crop Educators: Dean Bass .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Christina Curell .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or Paul Gross .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  

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