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Tiny cover crops have more power than you think

Young cereal rye plants were already putting roots into the soil in very late fall.

Tom J Bechman 1

December 21, 2018

1 Min Read
clump of cereal rye plants
OFF AND RUNNING: The temperature dipped below freezing just before Joe Rorick dug up this clump of cereal rye cover crop plants. Note how they’ve already produced roots even though they were planted late.

Joe Rorick dug up a clump of cereal rye cover crop plants. Then he poked through the soil, going down 4 to 5 inches. He found plenty of tiny roots already growing beneath the surface, even though the plants were only a couple of inches tall and just over a month old.

“This is a perfect example of how a cover crop can produce roots that grow through the soil and help microorganisms, too,” he said. Rorick is a conservation agronomist with the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative, or CCSI. He travels Indiana answering questions for farmers interested in conservation tillage and cover crops.

Rorick dug up the cereal rye plants on the Boone County demonstration site near Lebanon, Ind., to show how cereal rye plants, even planted late, can produce roots. Cool temperatures had limited top growth so far.

Rorick noted, however, that it was an excellent example of why many people choose cereal rye as a cover crop. Planted late, it can still germinate, survive winter and grow well next spring. Expect a return visit to the plot in the spring to check on growth of cereal rye where Rorick inspected young plants in late fall.

 

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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