How to Time Cover Crop Termination and Get an Effective Burndown

Termination Timing: Before vs. After Planting

What are your cash and cover crop species?

One of the first factors to consider in deciding whether to terminate cover crops before or after planting is the cash crop that will follow.

What’s your termination zone?

You should also take your cover crop termination zone (see map below) into consideration when deciding whether to terminate before or after planting.

What’s the weather forecast?

While the Zone map lays out specific guidelines for termination, the NRCS notes that farmers should make adjustments based on the weather.

Best Management Practices for Planting Green

If you’re forced to plant green because weather conditions didn’t allow you to terminate your cover crop in time, there are some best management strategies you should try to follow.

Effectively Terminating Thick Cover Crop Mixes

Whether you’re terminating your cover crops before or after planting, achieving a complete kill of your cover crops depends on the right herbicides applied under the right conditions.

Bigger Biomass Considerations

If you decide to plant green, you may be wondering whether the bigger biomass warrants a higher burndown rate. Wallace says he hasn’t seen any general guidelines on this, explaining that it has more to do with cover crop species, the growth stage and weather conditions at the time of termination. If you have winter wheat, you may need a higher rate than if you had cereal rye.

Preparations Begin in the Fall

While you can’t control the weather, you can be prepared for it. That starts by making plans the fall before and having a back-up plan in place if what you intended to do doesn’t work out.

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