Is Silage Corn a Cover Crop?

By: Anna-Lisa Laca. Previously published by Drovers online

When USDA announced Thursday that cover crops grown on prevent plant acres could be harvested on Sept. 1 instead of Nov. 1, farmers breathed a sigh of relief. Many had serious concerns about having adequate forage for livestock this winter. When they saw that USDA included silage, haylage and balage as eligible forms of harvest for those crops, many wondered about the eligibility of corn. Is silage corn considered a cover crop? The short answer: it depends.

According to the USDA ‑ Risk Management Agency website, cover crop eligibility is determined on a county-by-county basis.

“RMA does not have an ‘approved list’ of cover crops,” their website states. “For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement.”

Your local Natural Resource Conservation Service office can help you figure out which crops are eligible in your county, Ruth Gerdes of Auburn Agency Crop Insurance told AgriTalk host Chip Flory.

“You will have to determine if it is an approved crop in your county by NRCS, it’s going to have to go by county by county basis,” she said. “I believe most corn is not an approved cover crop by NRCS.”

It’s not the first time USDA has moved the harvest date on cover crops, but it is rare for the agency to do so on current crop insurance prevent plant acres, Gerdes said, adding that it was right move.

“I’m very pleased that USDA with the assistance of some able work in Congress came to a conclusion,” she said.


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