Tag Archives: planting annual ryegrass

Seeding Options for Annual Ryegrass

Moving into fall and harvest season, it’s time to think about seeding your cover crop for next winter and spring.

While “interseeding” of cover crops has become more popular – where you plant annual ryegrass or other cover crop seeds into knee-high corn or beans – the majority of cover croppers still plant in the late summer or fall. Here’s a quick summary of options.

Broadcasting seed by aircraft or high-clearance field equipment is very popular for a couple of reasons. First, it’s done before harvest, where there’s less going on in the field in terms of equipment use. Secondly, it takes advantage of warmer weather to allow the cover crop seed to germinate before colder weather sets in.

The downsides to broadcast seeding are few, but here they are:

  • Aircraft application can be messy – missing some areas or drifting over into a neighboring field
  • Broadcasting in any fashion may waste seed – getting caught in foliage, for example, or laying on top of the soil without enough precipitation to germinate. It’s best to seed just ahead of a predicted rainstorm for best results.

The old standard for planting cover crops was to drill it into the field at the time of corn or bean harvest. When done in optimum conditions, there’s no better way to assure a good cover crop because it gets the best seed-to-soil contact. But there are a couple of reasons why many farmers have moved to other cover crop strategies.

  • Harvest time is busy enough without adding another chore
  • Harvest time is not predictable and thus planting cover crops is sometimes left to chance – will the fields be in good enough shape to plant? Will there be suitable weather to allow establishment of a cover before temperatures drop?

Click on the following links to find out more about seeding options.

Planting Annual Ryegrass This Fall?

For those already employing annual ryegrass in the mix of your cover crops, this information will be redundant. For those new to cover crops, here are a couple of free publications to guide your first efforts.

ARG in Quebec - November photo

1. The Benefits of Annual Ryegrass.

2. Management Guide for Planting and Managing Annual Ryegrass

3. Cover Crops for “Prevented Acres”. This is another in a series of posts about why cover crops make sense. It is from the Midwest Cover Crops Council, a valuable resource for good, current information about cover crops and soil biology. The first paragraph from that publication is pasted below:

The Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) recommends the use of cover crops for prevented plant acres when feasible for several reasons. Cover crops can be a good way to take advantage of an otherwise unfortunate situation. A full season cover crop is a great opportunity to improve soil health and function. Cover crops can help to reduce soil erosion and compaction, capture nutrients, fix nitrogen, suppress weeds, moderate soil moisture, and build soil health. Benefits accomplished with these cover crops will put farmers at an advantage for the following cash crop and for years to come. A full season legume cover crop can provide considerable nitrogen for next season’s corn crop. This is also a good opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of a diverse cover crop mix. Mixing species is a good way to compound the benefits from multiple species.

THIS THURSDAY: Ohio Field Day to Feature Cover Crop Planting Advice and Tips

Ohio No-Till Field Day

September 11, 2012 By Leave a Comment

The 2012 Ohio No-Till Field Day is going to be held Thursday, September 13 with demonstrations on planter and drill setups, a firsthand look at cover crop plots and discussions on cover crop choices included in the day long program.

“Dave Brandt is hosting it and he’s getting quite a reputation nationally for his work with cover crops and no-till and the success of it,” said Randall Reeder, retired Extension ag engineer at Ohio State. “I think a key thing with it this year, with the drought, cover crops that were properly managed with continuous no-till are increasing yields.”

Speakers at the No-Till Field Day include, Gabe Brown of North Dakota, Bill Lehmkuhl and Ray Archuleta, a soil scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The event is from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the David Brandt Farm, 6100 Basil Western Road, Carroll, Ohio.

Annual Ryegrass IS NOT THE SAME as Cereal Rye

The name “rye” in both cover crops is confusing.  Annual ryegrass is a grass; Cereal rye is a grain, more like wheat.

Both are used for cover crops and forage.

Here are some basic differences, with the most distinctive in bold:

1.                   Annual Ryegrass                                                                         2.      Cereal Rye

Seed size/weight –     very small (26 lb/bu)                                                          larger (56 lb/bu)

Plant date –         varies, but late Aug/early Sept. best                                    can be planted later Sept.

Seeding rate –     drill: 12 – 17 lb/ac; aerial: 25 lb/ac                                               drill: 45 lb/ac.

Winterkill –        med. risk, less with 40 days fall growth and snow cover                          no

Deep rooting –     yes, to 60 inches over a few years                                   not as deep, 24 – 36 inches

Top growth –      10 ” to 12″ in spring, before burndown                    20″ at burndown, can get to 72″

Nitrogen –       sequesters N; releases N after burndown                     sequesters N; too much in stalks

Management –    care in burndown; no volunteers!                         easy kill; careful w/ over growth

Allelopathic –                              no                                                          yes, with certain crop seeds

Cost –              less $/ac. because of low cost/# and fewer #/ac.                higher cost/# and more #/ac