Cover Crops Stand In At Weathered Farms

Sep 19, 2019

Midwestern farmers have had a particularly challenging year due to extreme weather, tariffs, and flooding.

It’s harvest time and some farmers are turning to cover crops to prepare land for future plants. Cover crops preserve and enrich soils through rough weather or until another crop is planted. Recent US Farm Service Agency data says Illinois farmers were prevented from planting over one million acres of land this year. That’s about 5% of farmland statewide.

Mark Maidak said his Mount Carroll, IL seed business is selling to customers who are trying to make up for a less productive season. Maidak’s business, Mark Seed, sells a type of sorghum grass, among other crops and winter seeds. 

“In a typical year, with the sorghum family products, we might sell between 200 and 250 bags, which would cover about 500 acres of like a sorghum, or sorghum-sudan grass. This year, we sold almost 2,000 bags,” said Maidak.

Maidak said his sale of oats has also risen exponentially.

“That's an undue burden on a lot of farms to have to go ahead and procure additional seed to cover acres just to protect the soil or come up with alternative feed sources because they weren't able to get their corn or soybeans in as timely as they needed to,” he said.

Nearly 200,000 acres of Carroll County are dedicated to farmland.

The FSA reports over 100,000 Illinois acres were planted but failed this year. Marion, Gallatin and Wayne County saw the highest numbers of failed acreage, according to September 2019 data.

Trade disputes between U.S. and China continue. This is pushing the prices of exports like soybeans to record lows.