July 15, 2024

New cover crop available this year

Becca Brattain

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new rye cover crop will hit the market this fall that’s touted for its elite hybrid genetics that provide hardiness and fast germination.

KWS Cereals announced its new KWS Cover+ soil production program June 4 that offers “groundbreaking solutions for cover crops and sustainable soil management practices that comes at a critical time.”

“With rapid growth in the cover crop sector, pressure has been placed on the seed industry to find higher quality seed to meet farmers’ sustainability needs,” Becca Brattain, KWS Cereals country manager, North America, said at the company’s research facility near Champaign. “We invested in meeting this challenge and are excited to provide a solution.”

There are currently about 20 million acres of cover crop planted, and the American Seed Trade Association’s recent survey found that an additional 10.5 million acres of cover crops will be planted in the next five years.

“Of those cover crops, about 60% of that acreage is made up of rye because of its rapid germination, it is winter hardy and it covers the ground in winter really well,” Brattain said.

“The launch of KWS Cover+ helps meet that demand. It offers farmers a first-of-its-kind opportunity to use a high-quality common rye seed to help safeguard soil integrity between commercial crop growing seasons.”

She added the cover crop is anything but common, though. The KWS Cover+ is produced from elite hybrid rye genetics ensuring consistency in performance.

The seed is directly produced from KWS Hybrid Rye, which makes it hardy with the potential for fast germination.

Farmers get all the traditional benefits rye is known for with the added confidence that their seed comes from a known and trusted genetic source, providing soil erosion control, water retention, nutrient preservation, weed suppression, organic matter enhancement and carbon capture.

New Market

It also opens up a new market for farmers growing KWS Hybrid Rye.

“In the past, any unused grain had to go to animal feed. Hybrid Rye growers now have a valuable option to market their crop in a soil protection program,” Brattain said.

“This program is a first of a kind opportunity for rye grain that is harvested from our hybrids to be sold to our authorized partner seed companies, cleaned, re-bagged and utilized as a cover crop.

“So, basically, we’re opening up a brand new marketing opportunity for those who are growing our hybrid rye to sell into the cover crop sector and for that hybrid rye grain to become a seed and to utilize it as a terminal cover crop.”

Terms, Conditions

There are terms and conditions associated with the use of KWS Cover+ that closely mirror those from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

“If you are participating in an EQIP program, our rules for termination match theirs.

We designed this program to be as simple as possible, so if you’re already using one of those types of programs,” Brattain said.

“If you buy a Cover+ product, it must be terminated. So, it fits very well for those who have a corn/soybean rotation that need some ground cover.”

By planting KWS Cover+, the farmer agrees to terminate the plants before they reach maturity. In the event that Mother Nature prevents termination, the producers must contact KWS to determine a case-by-case solution.

“We understand that’s going to happen and if those instance arrive you reach out KWS and we’re going to make sure you’re crop is still taken care of and you’re not left with a field of standing rye that you can’t do anything with,” Brattain said.


“We do allow grazing of KWS Cover+. There are a lot of studies that show the benefits and value of combining a cover crop with livestock, and we want to promote those practices, as well. It cannot be chopped for forage. It’s strictly for grazing.,” Brattain said.


This new cover crop can also be blended with other species.

“We know many of you are not just using straight rye as a cover crop. You may find this Cover+ product in some of your specialty blends, depending on where you’re buying your seed or what type of cover crop blend you’re using,” Brattain said.

Commercial Release

KWS Cover+ will be available this fall from authorized sellers and license partners in the United States and Canada.

An interactive map will be featured on the KWS website for locating a seed company in the farmer’s area.

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor