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Time Approaches to Take Down Annual Ryegrass Cover Crop

Time Approaches to Take Down Annual Ryegrass Cover Crop
Follow the principles of spraying in a cool spring to burndown and get control of annual ryegrass cover crop.

About one to two weeks after he mows the yard for the first time, Jack Maloney, Brownsburg, says the annual ryegrass cover crop is usually ready to burn down. Since this season started slow and many people mowed for the first time last week or haven't even mowed their yard yet, the time to take down annual ryegrass is a bit later than normal too.

The goal is to get some spring growth but yet be able to knock it down before it gets too tall. Several who are having great success burning it down are backing off seeding rates in the fall so the ryegrass is not as thick in the spring.

Related: Forage Radish, Annual Ryegrass Lead Cover Crop Race

Inspect cover crop: Jack Maloney inspects annual ryegrass a few days ago. He typically aerially seeds ryegrass, but this field was drilled after harvest.

Roger Wenning, Decatur County, a farmer who has studied cover crops and worked with burning down annual ryegrass for several years, says the secret is in not cutting rates and applying the herbicide mixture at the right time. Here are the basics.

Glyphosate in general does not work as well under cool conditions. Plants are not moving materials down into the roots as quickly as once it warms up. So when you go out to burn down annual ryegrass at this time of year, you have to realize that you are stretching the limits of the herbicide. Your chances of success are greater if the annual ryegrass has broken dormancy and is actively grown.

Don't skimp on glyphosate rates, Wenning adds. That's the wrong thing to do at this time of year for sure.

The next big key is to only spray in midday, often from around 10 a.m. to perhaps about 3 p.m. If you spray later than mid-afternoon, the glyphosate won't absorb as well. Later in the season once temperatures warm up and plants are growing more quickly, it doesn't matter if you spray late. But when you need plants to move material down to the roots to kill the plant (and you spray late) you are less likely for the material you spray to wind up where you want it to be.

Thinking about a cover crop? Start with developing a plan. Download the FREE Cover Crops: Best Management Practices report today, and get the information you need to tailor a cover crop program to your needs.

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