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Cover Crop Grains & Grasses

Grasses and grains are by far the most common cover crop species. There are several reasons for this. First, they are very good cover crops! Secondly, they tend to be very cost-effective to establish. And third, they are typically one of the easiest cover crops to establish and manage! 

Grains and grasses can be grown by themselves or in a mix with other species. We do caution mixing grains together though. For instance, triticale and rye together can actually make a mix more difficult to terminate as they mature at different times, so unless their is a very specific reason (choosing to chop for livestock feed and wanting the enhanced protein from triticale), we typically advise against it!

Learn more about our grains for production HERE.

Tips for success:

Tips for buying Cereal Grains: There are a lot of producers growing and selling cereal grains locally. In many cases, this is a good opportunity to support a neighbor. However, you need to know what you are getting. Follow the tips below to make sure you are getting a fair deal on a good product:


•Always ask what variety it is. A true variety is a better option than VNS, as it will mature more evenly, allowing for easier termination.

•Ask if it has been tested. If not, you may be getting a product that has less than 50% germination, or a bunch of noxious weeds. A trustworthy supplier will be happy to show you the test results.

•Make sure it is cleaned. Uncleaned grain can bring in noxious weed seed that will last for years.

•Make sure you compare apples to apples on product and package size when comparing prices. For instance, cereal rye in a 50# bag for $18.00 ($.36/lb.) is actually more per pound than a 56# bushel bag of cereal rye for $20.00 ($.357/lb.).

Termination Tips:

When terminating a grass or grain cover crop, we recommend spraying herbicide. For cereal rye, roller-crimping can also be effective if performed at anthesis. We do not recommend tillage as a termination method in most situations, as it negates some of the benefit of the cover crop. It can often take multiple tillage passes to get an acceptable kill.


Herbicide Applications:

  • Make sure that temperatures are warm (55°F+) so that plants are actively growing. It is best that nighttime temperatures are no less than 50°F for a few consecutive days so that the plant is likely to translocate the herbicide. Prefer 3 to 4 days warm weather before spraying.

  • Always use rates listed on the label; do NOT cut the rate.

  • Spraying in the morning or while the sun is out is preferred.

  • Use adjuvants as needed! (AMS is needed for ARG)



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