Is your rye cover crop causing you to feel a little unsettled?  Rain and delayed planting makes everyone nervous.  The rye is bolting and will be headed within the week and you’re wondering “what have I done”.  Chances are you felt this same way years ago when you no-tilled soybeans for the first time.  They came up, made a crop and no-tilling soybeans has become a standard practice today.  Don’t panic.

A few things to remember:

Plant it before killing it.  If it’s alive, it removing moisture.  A worst case scenario develops when the rye is killed and rainfall occurs before planting is completed.   At this point, the soil has minimal chance to dry. Watch how Kendall’s planting green experience does go smoothly!

When does rye go to seed?  The sequence of rye developing into seed is similar to wheat.  After heading, the rye will flower and then ripen.  After the rye begins to flower, there is about a 10 day window before viable seed begins to develop.

Rye stages

Soybeans will thrive in tall rye.  Modern no-till grain drills and planters will have little to no issues planting seed into this environment.  The other good news is soybeans will rapidly grow through the dying and decaying cover of rye.  Additional options to manage the tall residue after planting would be to roll or crimp, but traditionally is not necessary.


In summary even though it may feel like the weather is backing you into a corner, cover crops are not the cause, everyone is feeling the same pinch. There is still plenty of potential for producing a great soybean crop.  The important thing to remember, be patient and have a plan that allows for flexibility. If you’d like help with your planting plan or other parts of your cover crop program, just ask! It’s what we do! Email or call me (419)447-7073.

About Bret Margraf

As a Nutrient Technician, I spend my time helping farmers manage the nutrients necessary to grow crops, with a special emphasis on the economical and environmental concerns. I also help on grants and educational events. Sampling, analyzing, budgeting and visiting are what I do. I enjoy writing about precision farming technology, cover crops and being responsible citizens.

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