When you think about planting this spring, consider whether you might want to include annual ryegrass seed in the mix.
More producers are adding an annual ryegrass seeding in late spring, planted between rows after corn has reached mid calf to knee height.
Interseeding makes sense for a number of reasons. First, it’s a more reliable time to plant, rather than the fall, worrying about whether the weather will hold out long enough to establish a cover crop before freeze up.
Annual ryegrass will germinate quickly between the young corn crop, if there’s enough moisture. When the corn grows tall enough to shade the cover crop, the annual ryegrass goes dormant for the summer. Then, after harvest, the ryegrass takes off with whatever light is left in the fall. Having established it in the spring, there is an established root system, so the growth in the fall can be significant….perhaps even enough to graze, if that’s in your plan.
Interseeded cover crops have a better chance of wintering over because they were established early in the year. The crop will be there in the spring after the snow’s gone, and you can graze it again before killing it at about this time of year, before planting corn again.
Dan Towery, a longtime consultant to the Oregon Ryegrass Commission and a pioneer in cover crop agronomy, is an expert on interseeding in the Midwest. Any questions, give him a call. In Indiana, he’s at 765-490-0197.