Georgia farmers told to weigh dry conditions in planting cover crops

University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension officials are advising farmers to carefully consider whether to plant cover crops this winter because of the recent drought conditions in Georgia.

Wes Porter, an irrigation specialist with extension office, said in a news release that the decision to plant cover crops depends on the grower's individual situation.

"Growers who want to plant a cover crop to protect from erosion and other elements, as well as to keep some nutrients in the soil, should probably go ahead and do it," Porter said. "It's a risk because we don't know when it will rain."

Although south Georgia received its first significant rain in more than two months at the end of November and the first of December, the soil is still dry in some fields.

Porter said irrigation of cover crops could be useful, although many irrigation ponds are extremely low. "Growers may want to run a pivot over the top of their cover crops to get them emerged and growing," Porter said. "I have heard many producers saying that they have planted a cover crop that still hasn't emerged due to the lack of rainfall and soil moisture."

Farmers normally plant cover crops in the winter to trap moisture in the soil from winter rain.

Porter said putting some resources into cover crops may be beneficial in the long term, but growers should know their limits. "I definitely would not put the same resources into a cover crop as I would my typical row crops that I'm trying to produce," Porter said.

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Georgia Farm Bureau University of Georgia Cooperative Extension

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