Tips for Better Management of Cereal Rye in Corn, Soybeans

Termination timing, planting depth, seed-to-soil contact and armyworm control are important considerations in making rye the most useful tool for no-till systems.

CEREAL RYE is a popular cover crop for many reasons, especially for its rugged characteristics that allow it to survive cool temperatures and for providing a living root in no-tilled soils longer. 

Cereal rye is also known to help provide erosion control, increased soil organic matter and weed suppression, and it’s often used ahead of corn and soybeans to catch and release nutrients and sometimes manage excess soil moisture ahead of planting.

But the utility of cereal rye doesn’t mean it’s maintenance free — especially when followed by corn in spring. Matt Rush, owner of Troy Cover Seed in Troy, Kan., shares these tips for successfully incorporating cereal rye into no-till corn-and-soybean rotations.

Going to Soybeans 

Soybeans are very forgiving when planted into cereal rye, but there are a few things to be aware of, Rush says. 

For example, soybeans can be planted into rye either the day before or the day after termination, but both practices have their own pros and cons. If the soybeans are planted the day after termination it gives the herbicide time to make its way to the root of the rye plant, he says.

“The reason that’s important is the planter tends to damage rye plants without killing them. Whenever the rye plant is damaged it stops ingesting herbicide, so if the soybeans are planted the day after herbicide application the grower can be confident that all of the rye will be terminated,” he says.

Some growers argue it’s better to terminate rye after…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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