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Rye Cover Crop Management Affects Grain Yield in a Soybean-Corn Rotation

Singer, J.W., Kohler, K.A.
Crop management 2005
Glycine max, soybeans, Zea mays, corn, crop rotation, cover crops, Secale cereale, rye, grain yield, crop management, developmental stages, Iowa
Cover crops provide environmental benefits, yet their adoption into production agriculture has been limited. The objectives of this study were to determine how rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop management affects yield of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] and corn (Zea mays L.) in a soybean-corn rotation. Field studies were conducted from 2001 to 2004 near Boone, IA. Prior to soybean, rye was controlled chemically and mechanically at Feeke's growth stages 7 (2nd node visible), 9.8 (boot), and 10.5.1 (flowering). Prior to corn, reseeded rye from mechanical control plots was chemically controlled. In 2002 and 2003, no soybean yield differences were detected among timing treatments in mechanical control, which yielded 21 and 29 compared to 52 and 42 bu/acre in the no-rye check. In the chemical control treatments, soybean yielded 30, 39, 43, and 50 bu/acre in the 2nd node, boot, flowering, and check in 2002 and 29, 30, 36, and 43 bu/acre in 2003. Corn yield following rye was lower than the check in 2003 (133 versus 153). In 2004, corn yield only differed between the flowering treatment and the check. These results indicate that alternative rye cover crop systems must be developed to protect soil and water resources and provide economic returns.