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Are you properly managing CRP grass cover?

• Jun 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM

In the past, aesthetic mowing of CRP grass cover was a widely accepted practice by many participants. Today with more research and understanding, it has been shown that properly managed grass cover will reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and is more beneficial to wildlife than annually mowed grass covers.

Wildlife, especially grassland birds including pheasants and quail, and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, view properly managed CRP cover as a source of food and habitat suitable to raise their young. Wildlife will not be attracted to CRP cover if plants are not allowed to mature. Game birds and bees are disappearing because of habitat loss. Properly managed grass cover does not include noxious weeds such as thistle and teasel or woody species like trees and multiflora rose. These noxious weeds must be controlled.

This can be done in several ways. Mowing of CRP cover, not to exceed 20 percent of the total CRP acres in a field, is permitted. This activity must be included in your conservation plan and be conducted outside of Ohio’s primary nesting season (March 1 through July 15). The location of this mowing shall be changed from year to year. Another option to control noxious weeds is by spot mowing affected areas or spot spraying of an approved herbicide.

These treatments will have a minimal effect on the CRP practice cover’s ability to meet the purposes of erosion control, water quality and wildlife habitat. Unauthorized disturbance of CRP cover is considered a violation of the terms and conditions of the CRP contract and conservation plan.

Violations could potentially result in hefty penalties including contract termination and refund of all contract related payments. Properly maintained CRP cover can be very attractive if noxious weeds and invasive species are controlled and grasses and wildflowers are allowed to mature. Please scout your CRP fields before weeds go to seed.

Contact your local FSA office for permission to spot treat your CRP grass cover during Ohio’s primary nesting season (March 1 through July 15). Plan to have your CRP cover assessed for the need of mid-contract management activities that are designed to enhance your CRP cover for wildlife. Mid-contract management is a contractual obligation that is outlined in your CRP-1 Appendix and conservation plan. Contact the FSA office for more information on proper maintenance and management of CRP practice cover.

Thinking about selling land that’s enrolled in the CRP?: If you plan to sell farmland that’s enrolled in the CRP, our office would like to remind you about the terms and conditions of your contract. Under the CRP program, the original contract (CRP-1) will need to be revised to reflect the change in participants and/or shares on the contract.

The new CRP participant(s) must sign a revised contract within 60 calendar days from the date of notification by the county committee or county executive director. If a revised contract isn’t signed within the 60 day timeframe, the contract will be terminated with respect to the affected portions of such land and the original CRP participant will be held liable. If the new landowner elects not to continue the CRP contract, the contract will be terminated.

When a contract is terminated, refund of the following payments plus interest is required from the original CRP participant: all annual rental payments, all cost share payments, signup incentive payments, and practice incentive payments. Liquidated damages are also assessed. Refunds of payments will not be required in cases where the owner’s estate or the heirs do not succeed to the contract. There are other cases that do not require the refund of payments, when a participant loses control of the land, such as eminent domain.

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Important dates:

June 15 — County committee nomination period begins.

July 4 — Independence Day holiday. FSA Offices closed.

July 15 — Final certification date to report spring planting. Call the office for and appointment.

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