Cover Crop Performance and Adaptation Trials at NRCS Plant Materials Centers


The information from this resource contains reports and technical information related to the performance and adaptation of cover crops in different part of the Unites States.

Farmers rely on the latest crop variety trials to make informed decisions on planting the best adapted crop variety to maximize yield given their soils and production practices.  With the ever-growing interest in planting cover crops, the NRCS Plant Materials Centers initiated studies to better characterize performance and adaptation of commercially available cover crop varieties.  Choosing the most appropriate cover crop varieties, like choosing the best crop varieties, will ultimately assist farmers to better meet the objectives of their production systems.

When a cover crop species is chosen to meet a resource concern, a variety from that species may be selected to meet needs such as: 1) production of early or late cover, 2) early or late maturity, or 3) winter survival.  By choosing varieties based on the production system, cover crop plans and systems can be developed to:

  • time planting and termination dates to fit within the cropping system,
  • develop mixes with species that mature at similar times to facilitate mechanical termination,
  • use winterkill as a method of termination,
  • use moderate levels of winterkill to manage competition of aggressive species, and
  • use maturity dates to regulate the amount of cover crop residue.