Published Dec 1, 2015

RESEARCH REPORT: Cereal Rye Cover Crop Termination Date Ahead of Soybeans

By Stefan Gailans
Delaying cover crop termination until soybean planting would allow for more biomass production by the cover crop in the spring presenting the opportunity for more environmental benefit.

A newly released research report profiles the findings of farmer-cooperators who seeded soybeans 10-14 days after terminating a cereal rye cover crop and within 1 day of terminating the cover crop. The objective of this research project was to quantify the agronomic performance of soybeans planted following two cereal rye cover crop termination dates—which results in planting into different levels of cover crop residue.

You can read about it here: Cereal Rye Cover Crop Termination Date Ahead of Soybeans. The on-farm trials were conducted by Bob Lynch in 2014 and Jeremy Gustafson and Jack Boyer in 2015.


Among the Key Findings:

  • Delaying cereal rye cover crop termination until within 1 day of seeding soybeans resulted in ~2x as much residue compared to when terminating 10-14 days prior to seeding soybeans.
  • Jeremy Gustafson and Jack Boyer saw no difference in soybean yields with the two cover crop termination dates while Bob Lynch saw a small reduction with the late termination date.
  • Bob and Jack observed cereal rye residue in the late termination treatment to persist through the soybean growing season holding soil in place and reducing weed pressure.
  • The most interesting part of the trial,” Jack says, “was the improved control of waterhemp in the cover areas versus the no covers. I get the impression, that with soybeans, you have considerable flexibility with termination date for the cover crop.” In the future, Jack plans on improving his no-till drill performance when seeding into high residue environments to improve soybean stands.
  • Based on the observations from his farm, Jeremy is convinced: “I plan to do more late termination of my cover crop ahead of soybeans.”

Support for this project was provided by the Walton Family Foundation and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship – Division of Soil Conservation. The full report can be viewed here: Cereal Rye Cover Crop Termination Date Ahead of Soybeans.

For more information about this study and other studies as part of PFI’s Cooperators’ Program, contact Stefan Gailans at stefan@practical