Cereal Rye as a Cover Crop in Soybean - Indiana

Trial Objective

  • Planting cereal rye as a cover crop can provide numerous short- and long-term agronomic and environmental benefits such as improved soil quality, decreased soil erosion and nutrient loss, and weed suppression.
  • Cereal rye is a popular cover crop choice in Indiana due to its winter hardiness and ease of termination with herbicides or a roller/crimper.
  • The objective of this study was to evaluate the difference in soybean stand, weed control, and crop yield between soybean planted into a cereal rye cover crop and no-till soybean without a cover crop.

Research Site Details

  • The trial was planted with a 3.0 maturity group Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybean product.
  • This trial was a split-block design with two replications. Each block (cereal rye and no-till) was one acre. Soybeans were planted in 30-inch rows with eight rows per treatment. Eight total rows were harvested for crop yield and averaged per treatment.
  • Cereal rye was drilled at a 50 lb/acre seeding rate on November 10, 2017 after corn harvest and fall tillage.
  • Crimping of cereal rye was conducted after planting when rye was in the flowering stage.
  • Percent weed control ratings were taken 21 days after the POST treatment.
  • The entire trial area was tilled in the fall of 2017. No spring tillage occurred in the trial area in 2018, and the trial was planted into a stale seedbed (i.e. “no-till” block) and the established cereal rye block on May 24.



Understanding the Results






  • Soybean emergence in the cereal rye block was a couple days later than in the no-till block regardless of treatment. Final stand counts were similar for each block.
  • Soybean crop response from Valor® SX herbicide (i.e. leaf crinkling) was evident in the no-till block but absent in the cereal rye block.
  • Cereal rye suppressed the emergence and growth of small- and large-seeded broadleaf weeds compared to the notill block (Table 2). Grass control was similar between the two blocks.
  • When averaged over all five treatments, utilizing a cereal rye cover crop resulted in an average 9 bu/acre yield advantage over no-till.

What Does This Mean For Your Farm?

  • Cereal rye is one of the best cool-season cover crops for outcompeting weeds and has allelopathic suppression on some winter annuals, marestail, and some small-seeded summer annuals like pigweed species.1
  • In this demonstration, utilizing cereal rye as a cover crop helped to suppress the emergence and growth of small- and large-seeded broadleaf weeds and showed a 9 bu/acre yield advantage over no-till (see * in research site details).


1Bradley, K. 2017. A review of the effects of various cover crop species on winter and summer annual weed emergence. University of Missouri. http://weedscience.missouri.edu

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