Earlier this week, more than 900 attendees at the annual Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference (Ada, OH) heard from more than 60 presenters on an exhaustive array of topic dealing with improving soil, reducing nutrient leaching and improving harvest yields.
Dan Towery and Jamie Scott presented in separate workshops in a day-long intensive on cover crops. Towery, together with Nick Bowers (an Oregon seed grower), Clem Bowman and Matt VanTilburg (no-till farmers) talked about managing annual ryegrass. While some still imagine this cover crop to be difficult to kill, VanTilburg dispelled that notion. According to Towery, VanTilburg said: “I never spray annual ryegrass (for a burndown in the spring) when the nighttime temperature falls below 50 degrees.” That’s a simple solution, Towery added, but not everybody will have ideal temperatures leading up to corn planting. For more information on management tips for controlling annual ryegrass, visit the annual ryegrass site by clicking here.
Jamie Scott, a Pierceton, IN farmer and cover crop innovator, was on a cover crop panel earlier in the afternoon and then presented later on his strategy for planting 35,000 acres of cover crops each year. Most of that acreage is in annual ryegrass, and all of it is aerial seeded by plane. Towery said that, based on comments by farmers in the northern corn belt, aerial seeding by plane or with high-clearance equipment is preferable simply because of the timing. It’s important to get good fall growth with annual ryegrass to give it the vigor needed to withstand winter temperatures. Planting after harvest is risky because early frost could then lead to the cover crop doing poorly.