Rye cover crop variety selection for organic no-till soybeans in Wisconsin

hello I’m Erin Silva organic
production specialist with the University Wisconsin extension amongst
organic farmers in the Upper Midwest there is increasing interest in
implementing organic no till or cover crop based reduced tillage techniques
using these techniques an organic farmer will plant a cover crop in September
typically cereal rye let that cover crop growth through the winter it into the
following spring terminate that cover crop using roller
crimping mowie and then planting a cash crop directly into that rolled cereal grain
cover crop typically soybeans using these techniques successfully an organic
farmer must wait until that cover crop reaches a very specific stage of
maturity called anthesis at this time the cereal grain is essentially
flowering so a grower will be able to see anthers coming off of the cereal grain
heads and pollen being shed in Wisconsin this typically happens the first week of
june so in the past few years we’ve typically planted june fourth or june
six however there is interest amongst the
organic farming community and planting soybeans a bit earlier ideally towards the middle part or
latter part of May one of the tools that allow our organic farmer to be able to
do this is variety selection of the cereal rye cover crop there is
a specific variety of cereal rye that matures about a week week and a half
earlier than many of our typical varieties of cereal ride grown in
Wisconsin that variety of rye is called Arustick which was bred for the
northern climates of the us here on my left you can see Arustick rye across the
field of this variety you can see that the cereal rye heads have emerged quite
a bit past the boot stage this rye variety will be reaching anthesis
within the next week around Memorial Day here on my right you see the cereal rye
variety Spooner Spooner is more representative of many of the varieties
an organic farmer would be growing using this technique as you can see compared
to the Arustick rye variety these heads are just starting to emerge
from the cereal rye plants and this variety will not be reaching anthesis until another week and a half two
weeks or so getting into the beginning part of june
the impact of choosing Arustick as your cereal variety vs Spooner would mean
that with arustick you’d be able to roll crimp or terminate the cereal rye
cover crop about a week or week and a half earlier and plant your soy beans
about a week and week and a half earlier as compared to growing the spooner variety after eight years of organic no-till
research here at the University of wisconsin-madison we’ve demonstrated that indeed organic
no-till techniques can be very successful for organic farmers across
the Upper Midwest reducing the need for cultivation during the cash crop growing
season and achieving soybean yields reaching 45 to 55 bushels an acre for
more information you can visit my website www.uworganic.wisc.edu

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