Interseeding Cover Crops into Standing Corn in June

CRWP Receives New Cover Crop Grant

CRWP has received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to explore an innovative method to seeding cover crops into fields with standing corn. Because of Minnesota’s relatively short growing season, seeding cover crops after corn harvest does not leave enough time for the cover crop to get established and grow successfully before winter. So, in Minnesota we need to find ways to get cover crops established while the corn is still growing in the field. The new grant will fund eight farmers in Rice and Goodhue counties to test different methods of seeding cover crops in corn fields in late June on their farms.

Project Background and Overview

Incorporating cover crops into corn and soybean fields is a challenge in Minnesota. In cornbelt states south of Minnesota (southern Iowa, Indiana, Illinois), planting cover crops after corn and soybean harvest is a viable option and has even become a well-established practice in some areas. In Minnesota, most years this approach will not work. In order to get established and grow successfully, cover crops in Minnesota need to be planted earlier, while corn and soybeans are still standing in the fields.

This project will explore broadcast seeding cover crops into standing corn in June (V5 to V7 stage corn). The project piggybacks on initial research conducted at the University of Minnesota interseeding cover crop into corn. Click here for an article discussing the University’s research. Eight farmers in Rice and Goodhue counties will test this practice on their farms. Each farm has designed their own specific approach to the project (seed mix, equipment, etc.) and has unique field conditions, which will allow us to learn from and publicize a wide range of experiences all trying to accomplish the same goal.

Project Objectives

  1. Can cover crops be effectively interseeded into standing corn in June (at V5 to V7 stage) by broadcast seeding and which cover crop species perform best?
  2. Does seeding cover crops at V5 to V7 corn produce a yield drag on the current year’s corn crop?

Click here to learn more about the benefits of cover crops and CRWP’s other work on cover crops.

Below is a slideshow showing how big the corn plants are when the cover crop seed is applied, the cover crop growing underneath the corn before harvest, and what the field would look like the following spring.