ANNAPOLIS, MD– Due to a late harvest and saturated soil conditions, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has extended the Nov. 5 planting deadline by one week for farmers who have signed up to plant cover crops this fall with the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program. Farmers now have until Nov. 12 to plant qualifying cover crops of rye, wheat and triticale on their fields.

The extension is only available to farmers who use the following planting methods: no till, conventional, or broadcast with light, minimum or vertical tillage. With the extension, farmers must certify their cover crop with their local soil conservation district within one week of planting and no later than Nov. 19 in order to be reimbursed for associated seed, labor, and equipment costs.

“Extending the planting deadline allows farmers enrolled in our popular Cover Crop program to plant more acres of protective cover crops on their fields this fall in order to control soil erosion, reduce nutrient runoff, build healthy soils, and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,” said Hans Schmidt, the department’s Assistant Secretary ofResource Conservation. “Importantly, the extended forecast calls for mild temperatures which should allow for germination to take place.”

Cover crops are cereal grains that grow in cool weather. They help slow down rainwater runoff during the winter, when the soil would otherwise be exposed, and recycle any nutrients remaining in the soil from the previous summer crop. Cover crops are a key feature in Maryland’s efforts to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the Bay.

Maryland’s Cover Crop program is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. For more information, farmers should contact their local soil conservation district or the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program at 410-841-5864.