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Cover Crop - Rye

How to Grow Rye, Cereal Rye, Winter Rye as a Cover Crop

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winter rye
Photo © Flickr user Johan.V

What is it: Rye, also called cereal rye, is a great late-fall and winter cover crop. Even when planted just before the first frost, it can put on enough growth to cover the ground before winter.

Seeding rate: 60 to 200 pounds per acre. Use higher seeding rates if the ground is rough, if it is late in the season, or if soil erosion is a problem. Sow no more than 2 inches deep.

Why use it: Rye has deep roots that prevent soil compaction. Can also be used to catch excess nitrogen in the soil. If mowed and left on the ground, it provides weed suppression.

When to kill it: Kill rye at the flowering stage. Mowing it down is a popular method. Can be left as a no-till mulch to suppress weeds.

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