This week we’re going to hear from USDA research agronomist Jose Franco as he discusses alternatives to only using cereal rye as a winter cover crop in the Upper Midwest. Some of these alternatives include triticale, hairy vetch and winter camelina. Here’s what Franco and his team of researchers are looking for with those trials.  

“We’re interested in a few different things. We want to diversify so that we can potentially reduce any negative impact on the next corn crop. So we are working in a corn silage system so, our corn on corn rotation. So we are planting these cover crops after corn silage harvest, we are applying dairy manure, and then the next year we are harvesting them for forage and then planting another corn crop to see the response of that corn crop. So, we want to see if diversifying them and reducing that proportion of cereal rye has any potential benefit to the next corn crop. We are looking at the pollinators with the winter camelina and we are looking at the nutrient uptake with these different cover crop species and mixtures. So we are looking at soil nitrates as an indirect measurement of water quality. And then when rye hits the boot stage we are harvesting all these cover crops for forage, so we’ll look at productivity. So we are looking at forage yields as well as running a series of nutrient value/forage quality metrics on them.”ight it down with whatever you have or turn up your springs all the way.”

You can head to to learn more about these alternative cover crops that Franco and his team are studying.