Cover Crop Grasses
Bounty Annual Ryegrass
Bounty is an early-maturing diploid annual orchardgrass with outstanding yield potential. Bounty can be used for pasture, hay or silage and is well adapted to grass and legume mixes. Excellent disease resistance, seedling vigor, quick recovery after cutting and drought tolerance make a great choice.
Shelby 427 Spring Oats
Not just for spring grain production anymore. When planted in the fall, spring oats will produce more forage than any other fall planted grass. When combined with a brassica the feed quality is excellent. The fact that they will not overwinter makes this an excellent fall choice when spring termination is not desired, and the ground cover provides a mellow mulch before minimal till or no till crops. This is a certified variety that has worked very well in our region for both, grain production, and forage production.
Winter Grain Rye
Bounty is an early-maturing diploid annual orchardgrass with outstanding yield potential. Bounty can be used for pasture, hay or silage and is well adapted to grass and legume mixes. Excellent disease resistance, seedling vigor, quick recovery after cutting and drought tolerance make a great choice. Rye is the hardiest of the cereal grains and can be seeded later in the fall than other cover crops while still providing considerable dry matter, an extensive soil-holding root system, significant reduction of nitrate leaching, and cool season cereal cover for absorbing unused soil N.
Triticale is a cross between wheat and cereal rye. Triticale has a fibrous root system that makes it an excellent choice for preventing erosion, scavenging for nutrients, and also building soil structure. Although less winter hardy than grain rye, triticale is longer to maturity with a yield potential very similar, reaching heights of four to six feet. Common triticale varieties do not increase in height as quickly as rye and are therefore easier to manage in the spring. Triticale’s primary advantage over wheat is that it can be sown earlier in the fall, leading to more growth. Triticale has excellent grazing and forage values, and works very well when used in a mix with other cover crops.
Barley does an excellent job of preventing erosion, suppressing weeds, building organic matter, and scavenging for nutrients. Barley is a quick source of abundant biomass that, along with its thick root system, can improve soil structure and water infiltration. Being both easy to grow and terminate, barley provides exceptional erosion control and weed suppression in lighter soils. It’s a fine choice for reclaiming overworked, weedy, or eroded fields while improving soil tilth and nutrient cycling. Barley has an upright posture and relatively open canopy that makes it a fine nurse crop for establishing a forage stand. Spring barley varieties will not overwinter.
Similar to Winter Grain Rye and Triticale, winter wheat offers an option to provide good ground cover and weed suppression in the fall and early spring. Wheat provides a high quality feed value when using for forage.