Problems can arise with any crop, and the problems multiply when management is lax. Cover crops are no exception.
Annual ryegrass has proven to be a valuable cover crop in numerous locations throughout the Midwest, Eastern Seaboard, Northern Plains states and even into southern reaches of Canadian provinces.
But, wherever you’re located, it’s important to follow basic management protocols when planting a cover crop.
1. Plant it at the right time (just before harvest, or just after) in the fall, when precipitation is expected. Doing so allows the cover crop sufficient time to establish before winter sets in and sends the cover crop into dormancy.
2. Kill the cover crop properly. Annual ryegrass is a vigorous plant and it takes sufficient ooomph to knock it out in the spring.
Try this recipe:1.5 quarts of glyphosate into 12 gallons of water. Use citric acid (or ammonium sulphate) to attain the optimum pH balance for the mix. Add Canopy (2.1 oz) and 2-4D (either a pint or a quart, depending on the cover crop).
3. The weather, the temperature and time of application are very important factors in management of cover crops. Overnight temperatures should consistently be above freezing. (It’s important that the annual ryegrass be completely out of dormant phase when the herbicide is applied.)
Moreover, daytime temperatures should be above 50 degrees, the weather dry, and spraying herbicides must be done early enough in the day to allow trans-location of the chemical into the plant. Best times to spray – between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
4. Scouting the acreage is part of the protocol. There are times when a second application is necessary, especially when the first application was applied when the conditions weren’t ideal.
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