Intercropping Winter Rye With Corn Silage

Final Report for FNE01-395

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2001: $4,378.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $4,437.00
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
Fred Suillivan
Brokenridge Farm
Expand All

Project Information


Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE01-395

The goal of this project was to investigate the feasibility of inter-seeding a winter rye cover crop at the time of side-dressing field corn. Fred wanted to try this to see if he could avoid the problem of late planting of a rye cover crop after a late silage harvest.

Field corn was planted on two farms between May 18th and June 10th. Luther Farm seeded winter rye and urea mixed together on July 4th and Brokenridge Farm spread the same rye/urea mixture on July 11th. The mix was applied at a rate of 100 pounds of rye seed per acre and 300 pounds of urea per acre. Brokenridge Farm also spread winter rye alone on a separate field at a seeding rate of 100 pounds per acre.

Unfortunately, the trial did not work as expected at either farm. Corn silage harvest started on September 26th and was completed October 19th. When the corn was harvested, no sign of sprouted winter rye was found on either farm. Ten days after harvest, a small amount of winter rye sprouted, but it appeared to be in areas where liquid manure had been spread.

Neither farm was sure about why the trial did not work. Brokenridge Farm had spread the rye during a rainstorm and Luther Farm spread it within 12 hours of receiving a heavy rainstorm of two to three inches. Cooperative Extension staff hypothesized that the summer may have been too dry to allow the rye to germinate enough to keep growing, or that perhaps there was not good seed-soil contact.


Materials and methods:

We started planting corn on May 18, 2001 and completed the planting on June 10, 2001. Brokenridge Farm planted a total of 97 acres and the Luther Farm planted 35 acres. We sprayed the corn for weed control on June 7, 2001 using Becept II Mag. 1.8 quarts per acre, Dual II Mag. ½ Pint per acre and Accent 2/3 oz. per acre. We had good weed control on land that did not receive manure. Land with manure had some weeds. Brokenridge Farm spread the Winter Rye/Urea mix on July 11, 2001 and Luther Farm’s spread it on July 4, 2001. The mix was spread on our corn at the rate of 100 pounds of Winter Rye per acre and 300 pounds of Urea per acre. Brokenridge Farm spread 48 acres of Winter Rye/Urea mix and Luther Farm spread 35 acres of Rye/Urea mix on highly erodible soils. Brokenridge Farm also spread 16 acres of just Winter Rye at 100 pounds per acre, (these costs were not included in the grant). The Winter Rye/Urea mixture was spread when corn was 12 inches tall using Agway tow behind spreader that fit in between the corn rows. The Winter Rye seed and Urea was premixed at Agway and delivered to farms in large bulk bags.

We had a dry summer but enough rainfall to keep corn growing well. Harvesting started September 26, 2001 and was completed October 19, 2001. The crop harvest was average – about 18 tons per acres. During the season there was no sign of the Winter Rye. Ten days after harvest some winter rye came up, mostly on the land that received liquid manure.

All in all this experiment did not work as everyone thought it would and we can’t recommend others try it. After spreading the Winter Rye/Urea mix we looked on the ground and saw a good distribution of seed and fertilizer. The Winter Rye did not germinate though. Even after harvest there was no significant germination of Winter Rye on either farm. Some Winter Rye did come up, but it was not dense and came up mostly where we had spread liquid manure.

Cooperative Extension came to both farms and couldn’t figure what had gone wrong. At Brokenridge Farm we spread the Winter Rye/Urea mix during a rainstorm. Luther’s Farm spread during the day and it poured that night some 2 to 3 inches. Stefan Seiter of UNH Cooperative Extension thought that maybe the urea burned. Luther’s Farm did not apply the mix during the rain and they still did not get a stand of Winter Rye. Extension folks also thought that the summer may have been to dry or that there was not a seed did not have good contact with the soil. Extension suggested that maybe we should drive over the fields after spreading the mix so that the seed would be pushed into the soil slightly.

We had planned to have the vocational school check germination, but there was no sign of Winter Rye seed germination. We also planned to produce a brochure on the trial seeding, but, obviously that will not be done.

We planned to write another grant to try things differently next year, but things got busy and there was confusion about who was going to write it. We may try things differently next year on our own. If so we will let you know what happened.

Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.