“I grew a Green Spirit Italian Ryegrass cover crop and planted corn behind the ryegrass in different fields. One field had no ryegrass, one field had ryegrass for one winter, and one field had ryegrass for two winters in a row. I planted the ryegrass in the fall and chopped it and burned it down in the spring before the corn. The PSNT test [Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test for corn] came back that the field without the ryegrass had 26 ppm, the field planted one time in ryegrass had 34 ppm, and the field planted twice in ryegrass had 44 ppm.
No synthetic nitrogen was applied to any of these fields. The field that tested the highest only had poultry litter applied, and the first field that tested the lowest had both poultry litter and dairy effluent applied.
In the fields that were in ryegrass, the corn looked some better. Where the ryegrass had been two years in a row, it looks even better. The corn in those fields was planted late, but by now it almost caught up to the early-planted corn. It’s been on the dry side this year, but the corn is doing well.
The fields that had the ryegrass cover crop appear to be holding moisture better, or else the corn is able to root down deeper. When it gets dry around here, the effects on the corn usually show up in a hurry, but not this year.
I’m thinking that the ryegrass is rooting down deep, and also has a very fibrous root system, and it’s bringing up some nitrogen and making it available to the corn.”
– Jared Cupp (Jared is a producer in Dayton, VA)