Did you know that the timing of termination and management of your cover crop including practices such as “planting into green” could affect your corn and soybean crop insurance?

NRCS encourages farmers to practice cover cropping to prevent erosion and build soil structure and quality; however, recently published NRCS guidelines for cover crop management require termination of the cover “within 5 days of planting and prior to emergence of the main crop”. If guidelines are not followed or an exception is not requested and granted, eligibility for crop insurance on those acres could be forfeited if not managed properly.

If you have questions about your cover crop practices and eligibility for crop insurance check with your local NRCS office or crop insurance agent. Implementation and interpretation of national policies can vary from county to county.

Here is a quick summary of important policy implications of the updated FAQ:

  • Clarification that haying or grazing of a cover crop will not impact prevented planting eligibility for the subsequent insured crop as long as the haying or grazing did not contribute to the prevented plant. This is an important clarification ensuring that a cover crop or the act of haying or grazing should not be blamed for weather-caused delays to agronomic management of the insured crop.
  • If growing conditions warrant a deviation from the NRCS guidelines, that is to say, if weather (either wind, rain, cold, drought or other weather) is causing a delay in cover crop termination, RMA is now requiring producers to obtain a letter from two agronomic experts attesting that the cover crop management (termination timing and method in a delayed termination situation) will not adversely affect the yields or quality of the insured crop. This is a significant change in policy in which before this FAQ update, producers simply needed one letter from Extension or NRCS obtaining guidance on how to manage/terminate the cover crop in a delayed termination situation.

What about interseeding a cover crop? Accepted “good farming practices” are generally given an exception and approved for crop insurance. However, you might want to notify your local FSA off ice and if requested have two agronomic experts document that your interseeding is a sound agronomic practice for PA.

NRCS guidelines for cover crop management.