Soybean School: Planting into a cereal rye cover crop

Soybean growers looking for cover crops that can deliver soil health benefits and weed suppression without a yield hit may want to consider planting into cereal rye.

Based on Ontario testing conducted in 2017 and 2018, planting soybeans into standing rye doesn’t hurt your soybean yields, says Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) soil fertility specialist Jake Munroe.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, we catch up with Munroe at the FarmSmart Expo at OMAFRA’s Elora, Ont. research station where his team has planted another round of trials in 2019. Over the course of the previous trials, soybeans planted in early-terminated cereal rye yielded just over one bushel better that soys planted into green rye — 60.2 bu/ac compared to 58.9 bu/ac. Munro does note that seeding at a higher rate into green crop is recommended to avoid stand issues — sub 100,000 plant stands, especially if you are planting later, will likely disappoint from a yield perspective. (Story continues after the video.)

In the video, Munroe also provides some early insights from what he’s observed in the 2019 trails. Like growers across the province, his research team struggled through a cold, wet spring. The plots were planted mid-June and are showing the warts of a challenging spring, including slot closure issues and cold wet soils beneath a rye residue mulch that was terminated in mid-May.

Rye that was allowed to grow the longest, before it was planted into and then roller crimped to kill the plants, have soybean plants that are about one growth stage behind. “That’s to be expected,” says Munroe.

So far, the biggest learning is the need to avoid a scenario where a cereal crop with good growth is sprayed out a week or two before planting and then runs into a spell of wet weather. In this scenario, growers have to content with dead mulch sitting on the soil surface, preventing soil drying and limiting transpiration, which gets rid of moisture.

Look for yield results and follow-up comments later this fall.

Click here for more Soybean School episodes.

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