Will there be enough cover crop seed?

Weather conditions have raised concerns about cover crop seed availability.

As fields get planted for the year, thoughts about cover crops start creeping into farmers’ minds. What to plant, when does it need to be planted, how to plant it, etc. Getting seed is the last thing that a farmer wants to think about. Will there be enough seed available for farmers who want to use cover crops? Fortunately, the Michigan State University Cover Crop Team has been busy working to addressing these issues.

To answer these questions seed dealers throughout the state and the Great Lakes Region were contacted. Seed availability varies from location to location. Those in the heavy livestock areas may find a shortage on cover crops that also can be grazed and/or chopped and baled. The farther north and south you go the more optimistic the outlook is for seed sourcing, however weather is always an issue. If rains come soon and it is sufficient to sustain crops there should be enough. But if it remains dry in our region as well as nationally there could be a shortage. Cereal rye and crimson clover, according to a regional seed dealer, is the seed to watch for shortages. Unfortunately, those are two important cover crop varieties for Michigan.

All of the dealers that were contacted are not suggesting farmers get their seeds right now but if you are planning on using cover crops it would be advisable to speak with your seed dealer and ask about seed availability. If you do decide to get your seed now, you’ll need to store it correctly to ensure proper temperature and light exposure. For information on inoculant storage, check out the following bulletin on legume seed inoculants from Colorado State University.

Species that need to be inoculated should be carefully selected. Storing it in a warm place may cause it to lose efficacy. The best thing that you can do is to buy seed that has not been inoculated and inoculate it yourself. It is also imperative that you use the correct inoculant.

To assist farmers in finding a cover crop seed dealer, a seed dealer list has been compiled. You can find the most updated list on the Midwest Cover Crop Council's website. If you have any questions about cover crops please contact Paul Gross, grossp@anr.msu.edu or Christina Curell, curellc@anr.msu.edu.

Did you find this article useful?