The Risk Management Agency adjusted rules on cover crops related to haying and grazing in the spring for 2013, according to Brian Frieden, regional director for RMA, based in Springfield, Ill. Frieden says that in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, cover crop grazing regulations and termination dates are different than in past years.
"We're trying to help producers recover from the drought and not penalize them for utilizing forage if they need to," he says.
The first rule is to check with your local crop insurance agent before finalizing haying or grazing plans. Regulations and dates may vary slightly from area to area within the four-state region. However, overall, haying and grazing will be allowed on cover crop land until May 10, 2013, Frieden says.
The cover crop must be terminated at least seven days prior to the final planting date for the crop, he adds. In many areas the final date for corn is June 5, and the final date for first-crop soybeans is June 20. That means cover crops must be terminated by May 29 ahead of corn or June 13 ahead of soybeans.
"The key is termination date," Frieden says. "If you hay or graze cover crops, you must meet both deadlines. If you don't hay or graze, you must still terminate the cover crop at least one week before the final planting date."
If these conditions are met then you will still be eligible for crop insurance for corn or soybeans in 2013, he says. These rules apply only in 2013.
The bottom line is that at least in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan, you can hay or graze cover crops until May 10 without affecting crop insurance benefits in 2013. Farmers in other states need to check with their crop insurance agent to see if the same allowances apply there.
Also, cover crops must be terminated at least one week before the final planting date allowed by FSA for the following crop. This doesn't mean you have to terminate your cover crop May 1 if you intend to plant May 8. It does mean if the last day to plant corn under RMA guidelines is June 5, you must terminate the cover by May 29.
Another note: don't assume these rules will carry over into 2014. These rules were developed and enacted for 2013 only.