Cereal Rye Green Up
Last fall (or maybe over the winter) you seeded cereal rye and now you are wondering “Is it working?” Like we’ve said before, cereal rye has many purposes, and many definitions of “working.” Whether your cereal rye is just a cover crop or planted for forage or grain, the main goal at this point in the spring is making sure your cereal rye is getting up and going. There are a few things to check on:
Overall Green Up:
By now, any fields that you have seeded cereal rye on should be as green as your lawn. This means you have a well established stand. A dense stand is important for the cereal rye to serve as a place to calve on, a future forage crop, and as a cover crop. If it is green, it is capturing sunlight and working for you to feed your soil biology. This leads to the next checkpoint…
Pictured below is a healthy cereal rye plant that was dug up on April 7th. What we are checking for here is, first, a full root system and, second, your soil's biological activity. How can we see the activity of those tiny microbes? The layer of soil that is sticking to these roots is an excellent visual of that. These roots are sending out exudates that are causing that soil to stick to the roots and also feeding the biology. That is all good news!
Another thing to look for in your cereal rye is tillering. These tillers are very important if this cereal rye is going to be a forage for livestock or be taken for grain. The two tillers circled below are what is going to add to your overall tonnage as well as ability to produce grain with more leaf area for photosynthesis.
Always check on your earthworms as well!