Wet Spring Slows Burndown of Annual Ryegrass and Crop Planting

A record dry fall in the Midwest, coupled with a cool, very wet spring has made this year’s cover crop season one for the books.

Back in November, it was looking like the annual ryegrass and other cover crops might not germinate because of the scant rain. In a few areas, especially when producers got the seed on early and had a bit of rain, the annual ryegrass got established before winter.

Cameron Mills, of Walton, IN, applied annual ryegrass via airplane in the last week of August. With an inch of rain after seeding, the cover crop sprouted fine but turned brown because of inadequate rainfall.

Jamie Scott, of Pierceton, IN, also aerially seeded in August and got a good start on the annual ryegrass before winter.

In these and most other cases, the top growth of annual ryegrass was minimal while the roots continued to grow throughout the winter. The fact that the Midwest had consistent snow cover was a blessing, simply because it allowed protection for the puny fall growth.

But this spring, everybody is happy about the annual ryegrass, given the cool and wet conditions. Everything charged ahead and it all looks good. The question now is how soon will the rain stop and allow the necessary burndown of annual ryegrass before planting corn and soybean planters into the field.

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