ANNAPOLIS, MD – Due to poor weather resulting in unsafe flying conditions over the last several weeks, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has extended the aerial seeding and aerial ground seeding deadline for farmers who signed up to plant cover crops in their fields this fall with the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program (MACS). Farmers now have until Oct. 14 to aerially seed or aerially ground seed their cover crops using high clearance broadcast seeders.

Only the following cover crop species are eligible for this extension: barley, rye, wheat, and triticale. Farmers must certify their aerial seeded cover crop acreage with the local soil conservation district within one week of planting to be reimbursed for associated seed, labor and equipment costs.

In recent weeks, rain, fog and wind has prevented aerial applicators from safely seeding cover crop fields. Extending the planting deadline will allow farmers to plant more acres of cover crops on their fields and achieve greater water quality benefits for Maryland waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. According to University of Maryland experts, moisture conditions are adequate for germination.

Maryland’s Cover Crop program is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. This program provides grants to farmers who plant small grains on newly harvested fields to reduce nutrient runoff, control soil erosion, build soil health, and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

For more information, farmers should contact their local soil conservation district or the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program at 410-841-5864.