Mowing native CRP plantings during the establishment years

Submitted by Sara Berges, Allamakee SWCD

In order to have a successful prairie planting, it is important to manage the weeds so that they don’t outcompete the prairie seedlings. You will need to scout your CRP fields often during the establishment years to keep ahead of weeds. One of the best ways to manage weeds in a new CRP planting with native species (CP2, CP25, CP33, CP42) is through mowing. New plantings should be mowed several times during the first, and possibly the second year, to ensure establishment of adequate cover. You don’t need to get permission from FSA to mow during the first two years of a new planting. The best results are usually obtained by mowing three to five times during the first year and often one to two times during the second year. 

A good rule of thumb is to mow when the weeds are calf high (approximately 12 inches). You’ll want to mow to a height of 6-8 inches. You may have to mow once a month from June to September during the first season, depending on when the seeding was completed and the rainfall amount. After the seeding is established, spot mowing during the primary nesting season (May 15 - August 1) must be approved by the FSA County Committee in advance. 

Keep in mind that Palmer Amaranth will be added to the Iowa Noxious Weed list on July 1, 2017. Educate yourself on how to identify Palmer Amaranth in addition to other (noxious) weeds. Palmer has the potential to pose a significant threat to nearby crop fields. All landowners and producers need to be diligent in monitoring for Palmer to reduce the likelihood of its spread. If you have questions about CRP establishment or maintenance, contact the Allamakee NRCS office at 563-568-2246 ext. 3 or the Allamakee FSA office at 563-568-2148 ext. 2.

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