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Another use for cover crops?

Jay Whalen digs in his cover crop field near Streator last week / CIFN photo.

STREATOR – Chances are diminishing for record-breaking corn and soybean yields this year, but there are opportunities with cover crops.

ProHarvest Seeds specialist Jay Whalen, who also farms in the Streator area, has been contacted by a few customers about backup plans for those fields which aren’t eligible for prevent plant insurance coverage.

“We are actually thinking of maybe being able to cut and bale for hay the areas we have cereal rye on because there’s such a feed shortage just in the United States,” Whalen explained.

A cover crop that is cut and baled can sometimes produce three to four tons per acre of hay. Even those growers wanting to raise soybeans can have cereal rye baled before planting.

“It just kind of opens up that window of having a profitable farm,” Whalen adds.

If nothing else, producers can plant cover crops on prevent plant acres to suppress weeds. This also eliminates the need to mow or spray the ground throughout the summer. Rules prevent the harvest or grazing of land that falls in the prevent plant category at least until after Nov. 1.

“They will suppress weeds and hold everything back,” said Whalen.

Whalen grows cover crops on every acre he farms this year. They were applied late last fall following harvest and did not grow as tall as usual due to the cooler spring weather. Cover crops typically require plenty of sunshine and warmth for good growth, but Whalen believes the crops are still doing their job and are easy to control.

As of May 15, Whalen’s farm has been wet and there have been very few acres of corn and soybeans planted in his neighborhood. Whalen was hopeful for a decent weather opportunity to put on nitrogen and finish spraying. He admits the plans for this spring seem to change daily.

“We have literally changed plans almost daily just trying to keep up if it will go and what we can do to get it done fast and efficiently.”

Anyone with questions about cover crops or seed can reach Whalen at 815-712-8246 or by e-mail at: General information on ProHarvest can be found at

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