CoverCress Inc., based in St. Louis, plans to launch its commercial pennycress seed in fall 2022 by contracting with growers for 50,000 to 60,000 acres, according to Chris Aulbach, CoverCress agronomist and farmer relations lead.

Aulbach said the commercialized seed will be valued as an oil crop with reduced fiber content. ”That will make it more feedable for livestock and better oil. Plus, farmers will get a return” for planting a cover crop, he said.

In 2022, the company plans to contract with farmers in 47 Illinois counties covering a swath east to west across the central and south-central part of the state. Contract “farmers will know where they will deliver and sell to as part of their contract,” Aulbach said.

CoverCress will announce 2022 field education observation sessions on specific growing season topics: March, side dressing and spring stand assessments; April, bolting and flowering; and May, maturity ratings and harvest. Hundreds of research plots are located across the projected launch area.

CoverCress is part of the Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm & Energy Resilience (IPREFER) project that includes researchers at Western Illinois University (WIU), ISU, University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and USDA. IFB serves as a member of the IPREFER Advisory Committee.

The commercial cover crop will be discussed at a WIU pennycress field day from 10 a.m. to noon May 20 at the Agriculture Field Laboratory, Macomb. The event is open free to the public and registration is not required. Click here for details.