Interseeding Fall Catch Crops in Winter Wheat

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2017: $29,974.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Illinois
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Michelle Wander
University of Illinois


  • Agronomic: wheat


  • Crop Production: catch crops, cover crops
  • Education and Training: extension


    This project tests the practice of interseeding catch crops into fall planted winter wheat. The goal of interseeded catch crops is to scavenge resources such as light and nutrients that might otherwise be lost during the winter months, before wheat reaches full ground cover. Catch crops such as tillage radish, oats, or phacelia will winterkill and release the scavenged nutrients in the spring to the growing wheat. This project ended up focusing on establishment timing and technique, and expanding the concept to wheat growers in southern Illinois.

    Project objectives:

    1. Objective: Determine the effect of interseeded catch crops on grain yield of winter wheat as a factor of species and intercepted Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR).
      1. Monitor % cover and cumulative PAR in situ through fall months with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
      2. Sample biomass, test for C, N uptake in early winter to estimate impact of catch crop on nutrient uptake.
      3. Yield samples.
    2. Objective: Increase grower knowledge and adoption of interseeding catch crops.
      1. Lead group discussion at Illinois Wheat Association summer meeting, discussing success and setbacks with the catch crop practice. Timing, tilllage, planting, and weather are all important factors for them to be aware of.
    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.