Notes from the ARS cover crop plots

Liz Bosak, Outreach Specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This past week at Arlington Agricultural Research Station, the pre-season activities increased with fields starting to dry out, deliveries of seed and supplies, and a rush to finish any winter equipment maintenance.   A cereal rye cover crop, seeded the first week of September 2014, had shifted from the purple leaf color indicative of winter to the green leaf color of spring (Fig. 1). The next set of photos shows what an oat cover crop, seeded at the same time, looks like after winterkill in early spring (Fig. 2). For more information about cover crops that winterkill and termination methods for those that will survive the winter, see the “Cover Crop Termination” fact sheet at If you are planning on using cereal rye for forage, please consult the “Cereal Rye Silage after Corn Silage” fact sheet, at, to determine whether the rotational restrictions for your herbicide program have been satisfied. There is also a fact sheet discussing herbicide rotational restrictions for spring-seeded forages after corn silage. For a complete listing of University of Wisconsin-Extension resources, please visit the Wisconsin Cover Crops website at

Cereal Rye 3

Figure 1. Cereal (winter) rye, Secale cereale, cover crop on April 3, 2015 at Arlington Agricultural Research station.

Oat 3

Figure 2. Oat, Avena sativa, cover crop on April 3, 2015 at Arlington Agricultural Research station.

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