As of January 4th, enrollment for general CRP in 2020 is officially open. If you’re looking to submit a bid, now is the time to act. Enrollment for general CRP closes on February 12. Enrollment for Continuous CRP will remain open as long as acres are available. For more information on joining CRP in 2021, click here.
The first step to joining the Conservation Reserve Program is to choose a conservation practice (CP). This will determine the type of vegetation you establish on your land. This isn’t a choice you want to make lightly. If you’re joining general CRP, your CP will have a major impact on your EBI ranking. This is a score that’s used to determine whether or not you’re ultimately accepted into the program.
Even if you’re planning to enroll under Continuous CRP or CREP, it’s still important that you choose a CP that aligns with your goals and the current condition of your land. Once you’ve selected your CP, you’ll need to determine the seed mix you’re going to establish. Your natural instinct may be to just buy Pheasants Forever CRP seed or seed from another company you’ve used in the past, but first, it’s important to understand what makes a good CRP seed mix.
The Basics of CRP Seed
The seed you purchase for CRP will have to match the requirements of the CP you have selected. For example, if you’re enrolled in CP2, you’ll be selecting a native grass and forbs/legume mixes. If you’re in CP42, your mix will include pollinator friendly vegetation.
CRP seed must be native to your area. In some cases, this means it has a local ecotype. Plants with local ecotype have genetically evolved and adapted to the climate and soil conditions of your area. Additionally, the surrounding wildlife have adapted to the presence of these particular plants.
The wrong species, on the other hand, can actually cause disruption and harm.
This can get tricky as separate species of plants often share the same common name. A few years ago, a number of gardeners and landowners started planting milkweed in an effort to save the monarch butterfly. Unfortunately, they selected a tropical variant of milkweed that lasts into early winter. This resulted in countless butterflies dying after getting trapped in snow and freezing temperatures.
You will want a seed mix that includes a variety of vegetation. This is especially true for pollinator mixes. With pollinator seed mix, you need to cover the three main bloom periods: April – May, June – July, and August – October. Within each bloom period, you will want at least three different species and three different bloom colors.
Different pollinators are attractive to specific colors. By varying colors, you can increase pollinator diversity, improving the effectiveness of your pollinator habitat while promoting stronger pollination. This also helps your EBI score in the case of general CRP.
Purity and Germination
One last thing that’s critical to understand about CRP seed is the information included on its seed tags. All CRP seed mixes are required to come with tags that breakdown the specifics of their contents. Seed tags provide a variety of details including seed name, variety, origin, purity, other crop, weed seed, germination, dormant seed, total germ, and PLS.
While these are all good things to know, purity, germination, and PLS are the most important elements.
Purity is the percentage of the primary seed that’s found in your mix. Germination, also called live germ, is the percentage that will germinate under standard soil conditions. The rest of the seed is dormant. Though dormant seed is alive and capable of growing, it typically requires stratification or scarification to properly germinate.
Live germ and dormant seed are added together to create the total germ percentage. This is then multiplied with the purity rate and divided by 100 to determine the PLS or “pure live seed” percentage.
Where to Buy CRP Seed
Deciding where to buy CRP seed is an important decision. It’s best to choose a provider that specializes in CRP. Not only will they typically offer better seed, but they can also provide assistance in determining what seed you need for your CP. For high-quality CRP seed mixes, make sure to check out All Native Seed.
All Native Seed is a subsidiary of FDCE that sells the same quality seed mixes we use for our own clients.
Alternatively, we can handle the entire establishment process for you. At FDCE, we provide turn-key CRP solutions that include CRP seed selection, equipment provision, planting, herbicide application, documentation, and reporting for cost-share reimbursement. With FDCE, establishing CRP couldn’t be simpler.
Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!