Updated: Jul 22, 2020
By Sarah Everhart
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The Cover Crop Program is the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s largest and most popular cost-share program. During the 2017-2018 planting season, Maryland farmers planted 395,862 acres of cover crops statewide using $18.8 million in Maryland Agricultural Cost-Share (MACS). Due to COVID-19, the enrollment for the 2020-2021 Cover Crop Program will be conducted entirely by mail. Farmers who participated in last year’s cover crop program should have been mailed an application, instructions, and a return envelope. Completed applications must be mailed to the local soil conservation district and postmarked between July 1, 2020 and July 17, 2020.
The 2020-2021 base payment is $40/acre and the base rate for aerial/aerial ground seeding is $45/acre. Farmers who aerial seed or aerial ground seed cover crops into standing corn on or before September 10, 2020 are eligible for a $10/acre incentive payment. There is also an available $10/acre early planting incentive for incorporated seed. If a farmer is able to wait until after May 1, 2021 to terminate cover crops, he/she may also be eligible for an extended season incentive payment of up to $10/acre. The maximum payment amount for the Program is $60.00/acre. Check out this chart for the 2020-2021 seeding rates and planting deadlines.
This year there are some key differences to the Program. To highlight a few, this year there are no incentive payments to plant rye. There is also only one early planting incentive in October (planting by October 10) rather than the two early planting incentives that were offered last year. Additionally, cover crops may be planted after corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco, vegetables, hemp and millet.
To allow for comparison of the 2020-2021 and 2019-2020 Cover Crop Programs I have included both tables below.
In order to participate in the 2020-2021 Program, the applicant must be in good standing with MACS and in compliance with Maryland's nutrient management regulations. A current Nutrient Management Plan Certification is also required and must be submitted with the application. For more information on the Program, check out this MDA webpage. Farmers who have questions or need assistance with their applications can contact their local soil conservation districts.