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Agriculture Department Announces Cover Crop Sign-up Totals for Fall 2017

Credit: Edwin Remsberg

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture today announced another strong sign-up period for its popular Cover Crop Program. During the program’s three week open enrollment period held earlier this summer, 1,758 farmers applied for grants to plant 639,710 acres of cover crops on their fields this fall.

“Interest in the cover crop program remains high as evidenced by our strong enrollment numbers,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Maryland farmers know from experience that planting cover crops in the fall is good for their farms, good for the soil, and good for the Chesapeake Bay.”

Maryland’s Cover Crop Program provides farmers with grants of up to $75/acre to plant small grains such as wheat, rye, or barley and certain other crops on their fields in the fall, after summer crops have been harvested. Grants help offset seed, labor and equipment costs associated with planting cover crops. Incentives are available for planting cover crops early; however, all cover crops must be planted by November 5 and certified by the local soil conservation district by November 13.

This year, Governor Hogan has allocated approximately $22.5 million for the program.  Cover crops have been shown to control soil erosion, reduce nutrient runoff, improve soil heath, and protect water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay over the winter months when fields would otherwise lie fallow.

Maryland’s nutrient management regulations require farmers to plant cover crops to help protect water quality when organic nutrient sources are applied to fields in the fall. Due to their numerous environmental benefits, cover crops are a key feature in Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. To date, Maryland farmers have consistently exceeded Bay milestone goals for planting cover crops and are on track to meet the next set of acreage goals based on the 2017-2018 sign-up figures.

The department is currently reviewing all applications to ensure farmers are in good standing with the department’s cost-share program and in compliance with the Nutrient Management Program. Actual cover crop acres planted will be determined after the November 13 certification.

Click here for more information on enrollment numbers.

Counties ranked by most cover crop acres enrolled.

  1. Queen Anne’s (74,459)
  2. Kent (70,609 acres)
  3. Talbot (63,671 acres)
  4. Caroline (55,563 acres)
  5. Frederick (53,770 acres)
  6. Dorchester (49,442 acres)
  7. Worcester (45,525 acres)
  8. Carroll (36,225 acres)
  9. Wicomico (35,131 acres)

Click here for a chart showing cover crop acres and applications, 2010 to 2017.

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:
Jessica Hackett
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888