With snow covering a lot of the Midwest this month, cover crops like annual ryegrass have a good chance of wintering over. That means continued activity in the soil, even if the vegetative part of the plant is dormant.
Annual ryegrass roots can dig all winter long, extending to a couple of feet or more by springtime. In the winter, the roots permeate compacted soil and open it up for better water infiltration and biological activity. These are important aspects of soil health and crop production next summer.
Here’s a recent article on annual ryegrass and other cover crops, from the Farm Journal, that outlines some basics in choosing a cover crop, some tips on selecting varieties and a lot of encouragement to try it out…even on a small test plot, until you get the hang of the management changes necessary for adding cover crops on a big time basis.