USDA’s Economic Research Service finds cover crop mixes account for 18 to 25 percent of acres with cover crops. However, the use of single-species cover crops is more common. For corn fields in 2021, almost 75 percent of acres with cover crops used a grass or small grain cover crop, such as cereal rye, winter wheat, or oats.
At 44 percent of acreage, cereal rye was almost twice as common as winter wheat as the cover crop on corn for grain fields. Rye and winter wheat were also the most common cover crops on soybean fields in 2018. Winter wheat was the most common cover crop used on cotton fields in 2019.
Farmers add cover crops to a rotation to provide living, seasonal soil cover between the planting of two cash or forage crops. Including cover crops in a rotation can provide benefits such as improved soil health and water quality, weed suppression, and reduced soil erosion.