PROFITABLE COVER. CoverCress, a form of field pennycress bred by agtech company CCI, is planted after cash crop harvest from September to mid-October. Its golden grain is harvested May 20-30 the following year.  Image: CCI

CoverCress Has Potential as Third Cash Crop for Midwest

Pennycress cousin offers benefits of cover crops plus income from feed & green fuel markets.

No-Till Innovator Jeff Martin is experimenting with a new crop that doubles as both a cover and cash crop in his corn and soybean rotation.

Martin and his two sons farm about 9,000 acres in Mt. Pulaski, Ill., in a 50/50 corn and soybean rotation. In 2022, Martin planted 200 of his acres to CoverCress, a form of field pennycress bred by agtech company CCI.

“Through genetics, proprietary development and breeding, the CCI people worked on stand, yield, oil content, early harvest, disease tolerance and anti-shatter,” Martin says. “They have really improved the pennycress from 8 years ago to where we are today with the CoverCress.”

CoverCress matures in late May to early June, allowing Martin to grow three crops in two seasons in central Illinois.

“It transforms our corn-soy rotation into three crops,” Martin says. “We’ll get revenue with it, plus we get the benefits of what our cover crops do for us.” 

Third Cash Crop

CoverCress is a small, golden seed with a thin, transparent seed coat. It has 30-33% total oil and 40% crude protein. 

CCI had CoverCress test plots of 5-15 acres on Martin’s farm for the last 5 years. 2022 was the first year Martin planted on a significant number of his acres. Over the years, he’s seeded it on both soybean stubble and corn stubble. Planting happens in September through mid-October, but planning begins in spring. Martin may change his corn hybrid or soybean variety to give the CoverCress its best chance of success…

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Michaela paukner

Michaela Paukner

Michaela Paukner is the managing editor of No-Till Farmer, Strip-Till Farmer and Cover Crop Strategies. Her previous journalism experience includes working as a reporter for a legal magazine and as a producer for two Wisconsin TV news stations. She has also worked with clients across the globe as a freelance writer and marketing consultant, and as a brand manager for a Wisconsin-based boutique marketing agency. She's a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

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