Carrington Research Extension Center


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Planting Winter Rye Prior to Soybeans


Winter rye is an increasingly attractive option to plant ahead of soybeans. Some of the reasons include suppression of early season broadleaf weeds the following spring, firming saline soils prior to planting soybeans, and reducing wind and water erosion. Recently, one of the more challenging aspects of utilizing this strategy has been figuring out a way to get the rye established. Corn is the most commonly used rotational crop prior to soybeans in central and eastern ND. Many people have been broadcasting the seed by ground (early season) or by plane (late season) over the standing corn crop to get the rye seeded for soybeans the next year. If you missed that opportunity this season, do not fret. For the last two seasons we have been conducting a planting date experiment in Carrington.

Rye was no-till seeded with 4 or 5 late-season planting dates each year. Dates ranged from mid-Aug to early Nov. In 2014-2015, which had fairly hard winter conditions (cold temperatures with little or no snow cover), the rye was less vigorous, had less plants per acre, and had delayed maturity with each later planting date. However, the last planting date was Nov. 5th. The ground froze within a few days of planting, yet, the next spring roughly 60% of the plants emerged. Grain yield at that date was only half of the first planting as well. In 2015-2016, the differences in vigor and maturity were much less but there were still warm temperatures after our last planting date (Oct. 30th) that year.

Soybeans planted into rye that was hayed.


If the intended use is for terminating rye prior to soybean production, even these late planting dates have proven useful the last two years. This means that the rye could be planted after corn has been harvested, particularly in a year such as this when corn is likely to be harvested earlier than normal. Broadcasting rye seed can work, but it is dependent more-so on the weather. By planting the seeds into the ground, there is a better opportunity for the plants to germinate and grow.

Here are the pros and cons to late seeding rye:

Better soil-to-seed contact Greater risk of winter kill
Better chance at successful establishment Less erosion protection during fall/winter
Can plant after corn harvest Less opportunity for grazing in fall/winter (also, delayed haying in the spring)

Mike Ostlie, Ph. D.
Research Agronomist

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