Shawn P. Conley, Department of Agronomy, and Damon Smith, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
I want to start out this blog being very clear and honest…… I don’t exactly know what the right answer is! However as I have stated before, the best thing about blog articles is that it is a dynamic format and can be rapidly updated and changed. I am sure this blog article will change weekly (maybe daily) as we learn more and I get feedback on this article. So let’s get into it. I think we all agree we need to put something on these fields to not only hold the soil but also manage our weed populations, especially waterhemp. To that end I had two farmers call me this week and ask what would happen if they planted winter rye in June. That is a good question I said so I reached out to many colleagues and we all agreed that yes that was a good question, but none of us had done it to date. Our collective thought was that winter rye or winter wheat (I think rye would be better) would grow 18″ up to maybe 4′ tall, stool out and put out multiple tillers since the plant will not vernalize and induce reproduction. This should develop a fairly rapid and robust canopy that can be very competitive with weeds. Speaking with Fred Kolb at UI, he thought that oat would also be a good cover as it would develop well put out seed heads, and if worked into the soil in the fall, reseed the system and then winterkill so you wouldn’t need to worry about termination next spring. For all of these crops I would target 750,000 to 1,000,000 seeds per acre as a seeding rate (WAG). Obviously this is not a perfect system as there may be some herbicide carryover issues from last year’s crops and we would be planting 100’s to 1000’s of acres that may serve as a green bridge for plant pathogens, but that is potentially next years problems. I encourage anyone reading this article to send me thoughts, feedback or other ideas. I am sure someone has tried this and I would like to add in your experiences.
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