As with all things related to cover crops, growers have a bevy of options to choose from, including termination methods. According to the results of the first-ever Cover Crop Benchmark Study conducted by Cover Crop Strategies, herbicides were the termination method of choice for a whopping 69% of growers in 2019.
More than 90% of growers responded that glyphosate was their herbicide of choice for terminating covers. Another 43% prefer to use 2,4-D and 13% of growers use paraquat for termination.
“I think we all agree that glyphosate has been overused,” says Steve Groff, a no-tiller and cover crop expert from Holtwood, Pa. “I certainly feel it’s been overused, but I don’t want to take it out of my toolbox until I know there’s a replacement tool.”
Winterkill was the second most popular termination method at 25% of growers. Another 14% of growers did not terminate their cover crops.
“I think it’s critical to think through crop rotation and understand that when these cover crops are terminated, there will be a drastic difference in the cover crop carbon, and that will dramatically alter how quick those residues decompose and desiccate,” says certified crop advisor and agronomist Scott Wohltman, who works with La Crosse Seed.
Just over half of growers, at 53%, opted to terminate cover crops before planting corn, while cover crops were terminated after planting corn by 28% of survey participants. In 16% of cases, cover crops were at planting time.
Termination looked different for growers planting soybeans. Forty-one percent of growers planting soybeans terminated their cover crops after planting, and 38% of cover crops were terminated before planting soybeans. Cover crops were terminated at soybean planting time for 18% of growers.
Cotton growers who use covers had drastically different responses. The vast majority of respondents, 79%, did not terminate cover crops in their cotton fields. Another 17% of growers terminated cover crops before planting cotton, and 3% of cover crops were terminated at cotton planting time.
For fields that were planted into wheat, slightly over half of growers did not terminate their cover crops, at 51%. The other popular termination timing for wheat growers was before planting, with 41% of growers selecting that timing for termination.
The vast majority of growers who responded to the survey, at 78%, terminated cover crops themselves. Only 17% of growers hired out cover crop termination for all of their cover crop acres.
Check back for more coverage of the Cover Crop Strategies first-ever Cover Crop Benchmark Study.