Maryland's 2019-2020 Cover Crop Program

CC2019.jpgAccepting Grant Applications
June 21 - July 17, 2019
at Soil Conservation Districts

Sign-up for Maryland's 2019-2020 Cover Crop Program runs June 21 through July 17 at soil conservation district offices statewide. Don't miss this limited opportunity to apply for grants to plant cover crops in your fields this fall. Cover crops are good for your soil and good for the Chesapeake Bay. They recycle nitrogen reduce erosion, add valuable organic matter to the soil and help protect fields from too much or too little rain.  

A ​$15/ acre Extended Season incentive payment is available to farmers who terminate their cover crops after May 1. Farmers who hire an airplane or helicopter to Aerial Seed Cover Crops into Standing Corn between August 15 and September 1 qualify for a $10/acre incentive payment. 

The Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share
(MACS) Program provides grants to help farmers offset seed, labor, and equipment costs to plant fall cover crops. Maryland has earmarked $22.5 million for this year's program.

Farmers who want to participate in the Cover Crop Program must sign up at their local soil conservation district between June 21 and July 17, 2019.

Bring your completed Current Nutrient Management plan Certification. This form must be signed by  both the farm operator and the person who prepared the farm's nutrient management plan. Download a form here

Eligible cover crops may be grazed or chopped for on-farm livestock forage after becoming well established. Manure may be applied in the fall following Maryland's nutrient management regulations. To receive payment, farmers must certify cover crops with their local soil conservation​ district within one week of planting and no later than November 13, 2019. 


  • Cereal Grains/Brassica​: Wheat/spelt, rye, barley, triticale, spring oats, ryegrass and canola/rape (brassica) 
  • Forage Radish
  • Legumes: Crimson clover, Austrian winter peas and hairy vetch (must be planted with a cereal grain as part of a mix


  • Two -species cover crop mixes may be planted at a rate of 50 percent cereal grains (including oats) and 50 percent radish, legumes, or canola/rape.
  • Three-species mixes (50/25/25) must contain a minimum of 50 percent eligible small grains.  
  • Ask your soil conservation district for this year's seeding rates.


  • Plant cereal grains by November 5, 2019. Some species have earlier deadlines. Ask your SCD for a complete list of planting deadlines by species. 
  • Mixes containing legumes, forage radish, canola/rape, or oats must be planted by October 1, 2019.
  • The aerial seeding deadline for cover crops is October 7, 2019.
  • To qualify for the $10/acre aerial seeding incentive payment, cover crops must be aerial seeded by airplane or helicopter into standing corn between August 15 and September​ 1.
  • Terminate cover crops between March 1 and June 1, 2020.
  • To  qualify for the Extended Season incentive payment, terminate cover crops after May 1, 2020. 


  • ​Plant cover crops after corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco, or vegetables.
  • There is a five acre minimum. There are no acreage caps for the Traditional Cover Crop Program. 
  • A field inspection is required for farmers who apply for the Extended Season incentive​ payment. The acreage cap is 500 acres.
  • All seed purchased must be tested and labeled following Maryland Seed Law and Regulations.
  • Purchased seed must be free of prohibited noxious weed seeds, have a minimum germination rate of 80 percent, and​ have no more than 16 restricted noxious weeds per pound.
  • Homegrown seed with a germination rate between 65 percent and 79 percent may be used. A higher seeding rate is required and fields may be subject to a performance-based spot check. 
  • Cost-share is available for seed testing. Attach the current year’s seed tag for all purchased seed to the fall certification.
  • Fertilizer applications are prohibited in fall and before March 1.
  • Direct deposit of cost-share grants is available. 

  • Applicants must be in good standing with MACS and in compliance with Maryland's nutrient management regulations.
  • Additional restrictions may apply. 

The Cover Crop Program is administered by the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program and funded by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. See your soil conservation district representative or contract for details.