Cover crops do double duty: cover and grain

Published Mar 3, 2012


Cover crops have been increasing in popularity because of the benefits they provide to the soil and the environment, among others; however, they are rarely harvested. Not only can a cover crop protect Iowa’s soil from erosion during late fall and early spring when it’s most vulnerable and following a corn or soybean harvest, it can also be harvested as a grain crop. A variety of winter small grains were tested as cover crops in the fall of 2010 to determine if these grains could be effective cover crops and also produce a quality grain crop, even though planted at a later than optimal date for typical grain planting. There were varietal differences in overwinter percentages and yield. Only the winter lentil did not overwinter or produce a grain crop. The percent of fall cover was positively correlated to the yield. All but one of the winter wheat varieties had optimum protein levels for baking.