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Chewing on Field Day Discussions

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
July 5, 2017         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Chewing on Field Day Discussions
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (07/05/2017) — Quite often in visiting farms and field day events, I come home with things to chew on for a while – thinking about how something works, or doesn’t or how it might fit with individual farms. 

At the SMALL GRAIN TOUR near Marty in Stearns County on June 27, U of M small grain specialist Jochum Wiersma shared that rye is being used in some hog rations because it reduces restlessness and fighting. Rye digests more evenly and doesn’t result in wider swings in blood sugar levels like some other carbohydrates - like corn maybe. Parents and teachers often comment on sugar swings with children – maybe in adult diets too.

Wiersma also told about German hybrid rye varieties that can yield 120 to 140 bushels per acre with good growing conditions. Lodging can be an issue. Currently seed is quite expensive compared to ordinary rye varieties. Rymin is still a good durable variety with yield potential up to 80 bushels per acre. Grain yield doesn’t matter so much for cover crop purposes.

Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye, with varieties that can be fall or spring seeded. Most common triticale varieties were developed in California and are more susceptible to winter injury than rye. There are some European varieties that are very similar to rye in terms of winter hardiness. I’d guess that seed would be more expensive; and triticale seed is generally more expensive than Rye.

At the SOIL HEALTH FIELD DAY in Morris on June 28, Dave Franzen and Abby Wick, from NDSU talk about when to terminate a rye cover crop related to planting corn or soybeans in the spring. 

We looked at a plot of rye planted last fall. This spring, corn was planted at the SAME time in strips where the rye was killed at 3 DIFFERENT times. The best looking corn was where the rye had been killed 2 weeks prior to planting the corn. On a second plot the rye was killed the same day the corn was planted. This corn was notably shorter. On the third plot, rye was killed after the corn was up. This corn was shorter yet.

This brings discussion about whether this is due to water used by the rye, nutrients used by the rye, or the allelopathic effect of rye - meaning compounds from rye that limit the growth of some other plants. It could be all three. Dave shared information from other trials that seemed to indicate that there can be an allelopathic effect from rye to corn. Killing the rye ahead of planting corn reduces the risk. Dave wasn’t sure that 2 weeks earlier was enough. He recommended NOT planting corn into a living rye crop. He’d consider NOT using winter rye as a cover crop at all ahead of corn. I wonder if this varies with different soil types and moisture and temperature conditions.

He said winter wheat would have less allelopathic effect on corn, but would recommend terminating winter wheat, maybe 2 weeks ahead of planting. Some people have decided to use oats for a fall cover, even though it isn’t growing again in the spring.

Franzen also said that this was NOT an issue with soybeans. He would NOT have a problem planting soybeans into a standing crop of rye. He would have a concern about letting rye stand longer in the spring, if it looked like it would be a dry spring; where limited soil moisture might be a problem for germination and/or for young soybean plants.

It is useful to watch for lessons in your fields this summer.


The Morrison County Dairy Tour will be held on Wednesday July 19th from 10:30 to 12:30 at HCL Farms, LLC, operated by John, Greg and Bennie Holtz Brothers and their families, located at 10232 195th Street, Little Falls, MN 56345. Questions can be directed to Extension Educator Emily Wilmes at 320-255-6169, extension 3.

A Stearns County Dairy Tour is planned for Tuesday August 1 at the Nick and Tara Meyer Farm, located south of Sauk Center. Watch for further details.

Horticulture bus tour to Bailey Nurseries and Gerten’s Garden Center, July 19th, 2017. This trip is offered by U of M Extension Master Gardeners of Benton County. Pre-registration is required.  RSVP by calling Benton County Extension at (800) 964-4929 or (320) 968-5077 or visit

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